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IONS OF 



! 



SACRED HEAR 



LESSED 






V J 

\ 
1 



Th0 Montreal S 



7 x 




"I MAKE THEE HEIRESS OK MY SACRED HEART, 
AND ALL ITS TREASURES." 

(Words of Jesus to Margaret Mary.) 



REVELATION 

OF THE 




SACRED HEARST 



TO 



Blessed Margaret Mary, 

_ 

AND 

THE HISTORY OF HER LIFE. 



the French of 

MONSEIGNEUR BOUGAUD, 

of Laval. f^, 






BY 




D I A rit 

- 



A VISITANDINK OK BALTIMORE, 

Translator of " The Way of Interior Peact" etc. 



SECOND 




NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, 

BENZIGER BROTHECRS, 

Printers to the Holy Apostolic See. 



Copyright, 1890, 

BY 
BEXZIGER BROTHERS 



tbe dfcemorg 



TO HER UPON WHOSE KNEE, AS A LITTLE CHILD, I LEARNED 
TO KNOW, TO LOVE, TO ADORE 

THE 



SACKED 



THREE MONTHS BEFORE HER DEATH, JUNE 23, 1873, ON MY RETURN 

FROM PARAY, MY MOTHER BESOUGHT ME TO RESUME THIS BIOGRAPHY, 

PREVIOUSLY UNDERTAKEN AT HER REQUEST, THEN INTERRUPTED 

AGAIN TAKEN UP, AND ALMOST FINISHED IN THE MIDST OF 

THE FIRST ANXIETY CONSEQUENT ON HER ILLNESS, 

AND THE INCONSOLABLE SORROW OF 

HER DEATH. 



TO-DAY 

I LAY IT ON HER TOMB AS A LAST TRIBUTE OF HOMAGE 
TO THE HEART OF THAT INCOMPARABLE 



TO WHOM I OWE ALL. 



\/ 

**<** jL . -^ . .i 

UB&HY 



CONTENTS. 



DEDICATION , 5 

INTRODUCTION 9 

CHAPTER 

I. State of the Church in France at the Birth of 

Blessed Margaret Mary. 1647 17 

II. Birth of Blessed Margaret Mary First Years 

Childhood and Youth. 1647-1662 34 

III. Margaret s Vocation She Enters the Visitation 

of Paray. 1662-1671 54 

IV. The Convent of Paray. 1671 71 

V. Margaret Mary s Novitiate God Prepares her for 

the Great Mission about to be intrusted to her 
Her Profession. May 26, i67i-November 6, 
1672 92 

VI. Final Exterior Preparations Last Finishing 
Stroke within. November 6, i672-December 

27, 1673 1 10 

VII. The Aurora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart 126 
VIII. The Visitation Established to be the Sanctuary of 

the Sacred Heart 142 

IX. The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 1673-1675 160 
X. Almighty God Prepares the Convent of Paray to 
become the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 

1675-1678 180 

XI. Mother Greyfie submits Margaret s Extraordinary 
Ways to a New Examination Her Severity and 
her Fearlessness Father de la Colombiere 
Returns to Paray His Death. 1678-1684 . . 194 
XII. The Blessed Sister among her Novices The 
Secret of the Sublime Revelations Escapes her 
in Spite of herself First Public Adoration of 

the Sacred Heart. 1684-1685 220 

7 



8 Contents. 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XIII. The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart Begun With 

what Modesty and Zeal Margaret Mary begins 
to Spread Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 1686- 
1689 244 

XIV. The Last Grand Revelation The King and 

France. 1689 263 

XV. Margaret Mary s Mission Ended She is Con 
sumed in the Flames of Divine Love Her 

Holy Death. 1690 274 

XVI. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus Begins in the 

World Anger of Some, Enthusiasm of Others 290 
XVII. The First-fruits of Devotion to the Sacred Heart 
The Church of France Vivified in the Rays of 
the Sacred Heart Beatification of Blessed 

Margaret Mary 315 

XVIII. Unexpected and Marvellous Spread of Devotion 
to the Heart of Jesus amid the Misfortunes of 
France The Second Part of the Mission con 
fided to Blessed Margaret Mary Approaches its 

Accomplishment. 1870-1874 334 

NOTES AND DOCUMENTS 357 

Note I. Margaret Mary s Birthplace 357 

Note II. Notes upon the Alacoque Family of Audour . 363 
Note III. Genealogy of Blessed Margaret Mary . . .368 
Note IV. Baptismal Register of the Relations of Blessed 

Margaret Mary 372 

Note V. Amodiation pour Dame Philiberte Lamyn, 
Widow of M. Claude Alacoque, contre Jean Colin, 
Noel et Jean Delagrost et Lazare Perdon, de Charnay . 376 

Note VI. Names of the Religious in the Convent of Paray 
at the Time of Blessed Margaret Mary s Entrance, 1671 377 

Note VII. Names of the Religious that entered Paray 
during Margaret Mary s Lifetime (1671-1690) .... 379 

Decree on the Virtues 383 

Decree on the Miracles 388 

Decree of Beatification . 392 



CANADIAN 

MESSENGER 

LIBRARY 

INTRODUCTION. 



IN the two volumes devoted to the telling of St. de 
Chantal s story and the origin of the Visitation, I 
thought I had finished my task. But a pure, sweet 
voice called me, that of the first of St. Chantal s daugh 
ters raised to the altar, Blessed Margaret Mary. She it 
was who was chosen by God to finish the work of St. 
Francis de Sales and his great co-operatrix. Both had 
labored together in the construction of the edifice. 
They dug the foundations, drew the grand plans. But 
the crown was wanting. It was Margaret Mary, that 
saintly and humble virgin, who was deputed to place it 
on its brow. In some way, then, the Life of our blessed 
Sister is a necessary sequel to the history of St. Chantal. 
The biography of the one illumines and perfects that of 
the other. 

But if Blessed Margaret Mary interests us as the firsi 
beatified daughter of the holy founders of the Visita 
tion, we hesitate not to say that she awakens our sym 
pathy from still another point of view. Hidden in the 
depths of her cloister, in the seclusion of a little town 
far from Paris, she received a first-class mission. She 
was deputed by Almighty God to come to the assistance 
of the Church in the fulfilment of a work the greatest 
and, at the same time, the most formidable ever accom 
plished in this world. 

This work, we well know, is not to remain inactive in 
the midst of the instability of human things, of dynasties, 
empires, and even whole nations, which shall sooner or 
later crumble into dust. Nor is it to impose on man s 
proud reason a collection of dogmas whose titles he has, 

9 



io Introduction. 

indeed, the right to study, but which can regenerate him 
only by humbling him. This work, still more elevated, 
so luminous and yet so obscure, is to persuade man that 
God loves him. 

Yes, one day, from the depths of His eternity, God 
looked upon man , and like some great king, some 
powerful genius, who falls a victim to the charms of a 
little lisping child, that child his own, God was capti 
vated. He loved man. He loved him even to passion, 
even to folly. He loved him so far as to make Himself 
man, in order to bridge those distances which, of what 
ever nature they may be, are insupportable to love. 
God loved man even to suffer and to die for him. 

Yes, He who hangs there on that gibbet, His hands 
and feet pierced, His Heart opened, is God ! And what 
is He doing there? He is suffering, He is dying, through 
love ; yea, He is dying of love ! 

This is what the Church is commissioned to teach to 
man. This is the price of his regeneration. Outside 
this we find only feebleness of heart, shipwreck of morals. 
A man may indeed be an honest man ; but the folly of 
sacrifice, of virginity, of devoted ness, of martyrdom, 
arises only from faith in the folly of the Cross. 

This love of God for man is so great, so prodigious, 
that it has become a scandal to the world. It is the old 
and universal stumbling-block, the final reason of all 
schisms and all unbelief. If Arius, for example, sepa 
rated from the Church, it was because he could not be 
lieve that that Man who had one day appeared in Judea 
could, without certain equivocal expressions, without 
exaggeration, be truly styled the Only Son of God. 
There was in such abasement a grandeur of love revolt 
ing to the heresiarch. Nor could Nestorius admit that 
the Eternal Son of God had reposed in the womb of an 
humble virgin, that he had been nourished with her 
milk, and that He had called her mother ! Luther and 
Calvin, why did they break anew the unity of the 



Introduction. 1 1 

Church ? Because they could not believe either in the 
tribunal of reconciliation, that is, in mercy that makes 
no account of ingratitude; or in indulgences, that is, 
in one of the most tender industries of the Saviour to 
supply for our ever-recurring insufficiencies ; or in the 
Holy Eucharist, that is, in His constant abiding with 
those whom He loves. Narrow hearts, which know not 
what it is to love ! And if in our day there are so many 
men that pass before the Cross wagging their head, who 
gaze at our altars with a smile of contempt, it is because 
the folly of the Cross disgusts them. Man s egotism, 
incapable of loving, sinks under the weight of such 
mysteries ; and the Church cannot draw from him this 
cry that would transfigure him : Et nos credidimus cha- 
ritati quain habet Deus in nobis: " Yes, we believe that God 
has love for us." j 

But precisely because the work is formidable, because 
the Church seems at some moments to bend under the 
weight, God comes to her aid by some master-strokes. 
As, when sophists multiplied, He made a sign, and we 
saw appear those whom we shall call volunteers, extra 
ordinary agents of the truth, a St. Augustine, a St. 
Thomas, a Bossuet : in like manner, when the world 
grew cold, and God s love was no longer credited ; 
when we saw degenerate purity, sacrifice, apostleship, 
devotedness, and martyrdom, all those qualities that 
derive their origin from the heart, but from the heart 
transfigured by divine love, God made a sign, and we 
saw arise those whom we shall call volunteers, the 
extraordinary agents of love. Thus, for example, when 
Constantine ascended the imperial throne, the early 
persecutions passed ; when he extended over the Church 
his imperial purple, he introduced with those honors, 
though unknown to himself and without willing it, the 
seeds of lukewarmness. When arise those cold-hearted 
doctors whom we have already cited, Arius, Nestorius, 
1 I. John iv. 16. 



1 2 Introduction. 

Eutyches, whose doctrine was at best only the denial of 
infinite love ; when old pagan sensualism was slowly 
penetrating into the Church, at that moment the earth 
opened, and from her bosom came forth the instruments 
of the Passion of Jesus Christ : the cross on which He 
died, the nails that pierced His feet and hands, the 
crown that wounded His brow, the lance that opened 
His Heart. The world was providentially roused to new 
life by contact with those sacred trophies of the Passion. 

And who was the privileged creature to whom God 
gave this great mission of reviving the world in the 
fourth century? A woman the pious Helena, the 
mother of Constantine, the imperial Liberator of the 
Church. It was a woman, and we can divine the cause. 
Ordinarily inferior to man in gifts of intellect, woman is 
his superior in those of the heart. She loves more, she 
loves better. Even in thought she never separates love 
from sacrifice. To love is for her self-immolation. It 
was, then, a woman ; and, moreover, it was a mother. 
That, too, we can understand. 

Before the Cross, before the folly of love, man may 
sometimes pass wagging his head ; but the mother, 
never ! She takes her child in her arms, she raises her 
eyes to the Cross, and she says to herself : " What is 
there so astonishing in Jesus Christ s dying for His 
children ? Would / not do the same for mine ?" 

It was, then, a woman, a wife, a mother, who, in the 
fourth century, received the mission to revivify the 
world by holding up to it the Cross of Jesus Christ ; 
and, in fact, she succeeded. The great devotion of those 
barbarous nations of the Middle Ages was devotion to 
the Cross. They even fought battles for its restitution 
when it had passed out of their hands. The West rose 
to a man to get possession of the Saviour s empty tomb. 
When arrived in Jerusalem, those hardy warriors, a God 
frey de Bouillon, a Tancred, a Baldwin, were seen mak 
ing the circuit of the Holy City, barefoot and shedding 



Introdiiction. 1 3 

abundant tears. Some of them even expired of love 
and sorrow when kissing the rocks of Calvary. Fiance 
trembled one day with the purest emotion that had 
ever thrilled her soul, when St. Louis re-entered his cap 
ital, bearing in his royal hands the crown of thorns that 
had steeped in blood the brow of Jesus Christ. During 
five centuries, from St. Helena to St. Louis, the world, 
rewarmed by contact with the holy cross on which 
Jesus Christ had died, could utter the conquering cry : 
Yes, we believe in God s infinite love for man ! 

But it was not difficult for an observer to see that this 
devotion, owing to human infirmity, would soon be in 
sufficient to support a flame that had evidently begun 
to flicker. The Crusades became more and more an im 
possibility ; in vain did the Sovereign Pontiffs urge the 
Faithful to rescue the profaned tomb of Jesus Christ. 
A symbol more touching than even the Cross had become 
a necessity, something that would sink more deeply into 
hearts. Then, in the solitude of a Belgian convent, God 
appeared to a privileged soul, and gave her the mission 
to turn all eyes and hearts to the Holy Eucharist, and to 
ask from the Church some new manifestations of homage 
for this august mystery. 

And who was the favored creature predestined to 
revive the world in the thirteenth century, and to be 
what we shall call an extraordinary agent of love ? 
Again a woman, and this time a virgin ! However 
pure, however clear-sighted the heart of the mother, 
there is something more beautiful, more crystalline still, 
and that is the heart of a virgin ! And besides, the 
mystery of the Eucharist being the mystery of the 
angels, it was fitting to reserve to virginity the honors 
of that revelation and of that apostolate. 

As nothing happens in the Church but by the breath 
ings of God s Spirit, whilst the new pomps of Corpus 
Christ! were being displayed, an unknown monk sent 
forth the Book of the " Imitation" the most beautiful 



1 4 Introduction. 

pages that have ever fallen from the pen of man, espe 
cially Book IV., so calculated to inflame hearts with love 
for the Holy Eucharist. At the same time St. Thomas 
composed his incomparable hymns, " Lauda Sion" and 
" Adoro Te Supplex" Then Gothic cathedrals rose as if 
to be triumphal arches in honor of the Holy Eucharist. 
From their hallowed precincts came solemnly forth 
those beautiful processions of the Blessed Sacrament of 
which we know ; and the world, reanimated and trans 
formed by the warmth of the devotion, began its march 
anew, the cry of victory upon its lips : We believe in 
God s infinite love for us. 

Three centuries rolled by! Suddenly there sweeps 
over the Church a current icy cold, freezing. Luther 
appeared, and denied infinite love in its most tender 
manifestations. Calvin followed, and suppressed the 
Eucharist. Jansenius arose, and, though not denying 
the Holy Eucharist, taught the Faithful to abstain from 
it with the most profound respect. Books on, or, as we 
should say, against, frequent Communion were written, 
and treasures of learning were called into play, in order 
to teach the Faithful that Jesus Christ established the 
Divine Sacrament that they might receive it as seldom 
as possible. Faith in infinite love grew weak through 
out the world ; coldness was everywhere felt. 

O my God, my God ! what art Thou now going to 
do ? By what ingenious device art Thou going to re 
animate souls ? What secret remedy hast Thou in re 
serve for times so sad ? And to what privileged soul 
art Thou now going to confide it? 

To reanimate faith and piety, God again chose a 
woman, a virgin. Evidently, He wished to make none 
other the extraordinary agent of His love ! 

With divine art He prepared the chosen virgin for 
her mission. When her heart had become like that of 
an angel ; when one night she was plunged in ecstasy, 
immovable, recollected, her arms crossed on her breast, 



Introduction. i ^ 

her face strangely lighted, all aglow with interior fire, 
a celestial radiance, visible to her alone, arose above the 
altar. In it she perceived, as she tremblingly glanced 
through the grate, the adorable person of our Lord Jesus 
Christ! When, at last, she ventured to fix upon Him 
her eyes moist with tears, she saw the Saviour s breast 
resplendent, and His Heart sparkling like a sun in the 
midst of flames. And hark, a voice addressed her : " Be 
hold the Heart that has so loved men, even to consume itself 
for them /" Several times were these visions repeated, 
and in them were the adorable designs of God revealed 
to her. She saw the wounds of society healed by de 
grees through contact with this Divine Heart ; and the 
Church, revvarmed, reanimated by the rays of this fur 
nace of love, resume her triumphant, benevolent march 
through the world. 

To add one more charm to this devotion, that is for 
the French heart, God gave it to His Church by the 
hands of France. It was to a French religious, mem 
ber of a French Order, in a town of France, that He 
made known what He wished her to promulgate to the 
universal Church. And not only is it to France that 
the revelation is made, it is made/<?r France. So well 
does it correspond on the one hand to her most noble 
aspirations, her most elevated sentiments ; so sweetly 
and efficaciously does it touch on the other her saddest 
wounds, that it is evident God thought of France in 
giving to the world the grand revelation of the Sacred 
Heart. Yes, He not only thought, He expressed His 
thought in words; He announced it with a precision 
truly miraculous. In fact, in proportion as France 
plunged into the Sacred Heart, has she been regen 
erated. 

Behold of what we shall treat in the following pages, 
though for it we should borrow the tongues of angels or 
of saints. We shall, however, try what we can do ; for 
not to try would be in us the blackest ingratitude, 



1 6 Introduction. 

Before beginning, we shall, however, premise one ob 
servation. Just as we might say to a youth about en 
tering upon the study of mathematics, " This book 
treats of infinitesimal calculus. Do not open it, for you 
will understand nothing in it :" in like manner, if any 
one believes not in the infinite love of God for man dis 
played from His crib to His cross, and still shown in 
the Holy Eucharist, let him not open this book ! Should 
he do so, he will be amazed and scandalized. I am 
going to recount the strangest things, facts the most 
extraordinary, the most inconceivable, and yet the most 
certain, as well as the most touching : a God loving 
man to folly, yes, even to passion ! This God, forgot 
ten, despised, betrayed, ignored by man, has not de 
spaired of man. Instead of punishing him, of crushing 
him, as He might have done, He resolved to conquer 
him by force of love. And this is the story that I am 
now going to tell. 

O Jesus, from my mother s arms to the ardent years 
of my youth, I never ceased to believe in that infinite 
love which is the sap. the divine sustenance, of Chris 
tianity ; and now, at the age that brings to man experi 
ence of the world, and, if he has been faithful, opens to 
him the splendors of heaven, I feel that same infinite 
love shining on my head with undimmed brilliancy. It 
is true to say, I now scarcely believe in man s love, for 
I believe much more in God s love ! Help me, then, O 
Christ, O Saviour, O Friend, and may these my last 
words, if they are to be my last, bear to the very depths 
of souls the knowledge of that love whose charm I 
have tasted, but of whose sweetness I shall never be 
able to speak ! 

ORLEANS, May 24, 1874. 



LIFE OF 

BLESSED MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE. 



CHAPTER I. 

STATE OF THE CHURCH IN FRANCE AT THE BIRTH 
OF BLESSED MARGARET MARY. 

1647. 

Mane nobiscum, Domine, quoniam advesperascit, et inclinata 
est jam dies." 

" Stay with us, O Lord, because it is towards evening, and the day 
is no : ,v far spent." St. Luke xxiv. 29. 

c? j 
N 1647, the year in which Margaret Mary was born 

at Verosvres, a small Burgundian village seven 
leagues from Paray, Catholic France had just 
achieved a great victory. The latter part of the six 
teenth century had been spent in expelling schism and 
heresy from her bosom. Freed from the bad leaven, 
she nourished in the seventeenth. 

Joy was great in Christian homes; for never, perhaps, 
had France known so fearful a danger. With its doc 
trine of reason s absolute independence, its contempt of 
authority, and its hatred of ecclesiastical rule, Protes 
tantism was calculated to please a nation in love with 
equality, naturally rebellious, arid quickly wearied of 
thai authority of which it had so much need. On the 
other hand, enervated and corrupted under the frivolous 
reig.ns of Francis I., Henry II., Charles IX., and Henry 
III., she was only too well prepared by her depraved 
morality to curtail her ancient doctrines. She hesitated 
a moment; and heresy, which had seduced a part of the 
high nobility, mounted the steps of the throne. It was 

17 



1 8 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

one of those solemn hours that decide the future of a 
world. Let us suppose that, after the defection of all 
England, of a part of Germany, Prussia, Sweden, Nor 
way, and Switzerland, France, too, had proved recreant: 
humanly speaking, the Catholic Church in Europe 
would have succumbed. 

Happily, if under certain forms Protestantism exer> 
cised a charm over France, under others it inspired in. 
vincible repugnance. France is a thoroughly religious 
nation, though led rather by the heart than the head. 
Into religion, as into all things else, she carries her 
ardent and lively nature, her love of being led rather than 
convinced; and in the love she bestows she conceives no 
limit other than that which she exacts. In this respect, 
Protestantism was radically incapable of satisfying 
France. 

Protestantism is not a spontaneous growth. It only 
ingrafted itself on the old trunk of the Gospel as a so- 
called development and improvement. It established 
itself in a manner entirely contradictory; that is, by 
lopping off, by retrenching. Now, what it suppressed 
was precisely that which had charms for France, that 
which had, from the first, so completely, so lastingly, 
attached her to the Catholic faith. 

The first dogma of Protestantism, or rather its first 
curtailment, was that Jesus Christ did not become in 
carnate for all men ; He suffered and died only for 
some; His Heart is not large enough to embrace all 
humanity. 

The second dogma of Protestantism is that, even in 
this narrow circle of the predestined, the mercy of Jesus 
Christ has limits. It does not pardon sins, it does not 
remit debts. One cannot weep at His feet the misfor 
tune of having offended Him, nor rise up, his eyes 
glistening with tears, in the assurance that -the love of 
Jesus has consumed all, purified all, forgotten all. 

The third dogma of Protestantism is that the Lord 



State of the Church in France at her Birth. 19 

does not remain among us in the Holy Eucharist. Ac 
cording to the Lutheran doctrine, He passes like a flash 
of lightning; whilst the Calvinists teach that He is not 
present at all. Neither the one nor the other believes 
God sufficiently loving " to make it His delight to be 
with the children of men." : 

Viewed in the light of faith and in relation to God, 
Protestantism is only a half-gift, a half-love. Hence, 
how could it caotivate a nation in which the heart pre 
dominates; a nation moved more by feeling (with which 
in vivacity none other can compare) than by principle ? 
France, believing or infidel, virtuous or depraved, is 
never anything by halves. She is, according to the 
love that sways her, always in the extreme of good or 
evil. 

The consequences of Protestantism are, besides, worthy 
of its principles. When Protestants admit in God only 
a half-love, how require of man a whole love? Thus, 
scarcely had Luther and Calvin formulated their doc 
trine, than one sees the spirit of heroic self-sacrifice 
die out like a wind suddenly lulled. Holy enthusiasm 
is extinguished ; no more consecrated vestals and 
apostles; souls that despise all for God are no longer 
to be found. To the rapture that produced wonders 
succeeds the morality that is limited to the avoidance of 
faults. Soon it was necessary to mask this sterility. 
That to which these innovators could no longer attain 
was despised; the religious state was suppressed, pen 
ance abolished. Fearing lest man should surpass God 
in proofs of love, those proofs are forbidden him. 

This was the finishing stroke of Protestantism in 
France, What ! no more religious ? Can we no 
longer give apostles to God? We are forbidden volun 
tary sacrifice, the outward expression of love s passion 
and folly ! What ! shall we have no more tabernacles 
in our churches? Shall the living Christ go forth? 
1 Prov, viii. 31, 



2O Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Shall we have of Him but a shadowy remembrance as 
of one belonging to far-off ages ? France felt to the 
core the stroke aimed at her deepest religious interests, 
and she rejected Protestantism as one would a restless, 
troubled dream. 

Other reasons, political and national, were added to 
these. Owing to circumstances in which it is permitted 
us to see the hand of God, France was the first-born of 
Catholic nations; and in consequence of circumstances 
still more marvellous, she found herself from her crib 
endowed with a genius so like that of the Church that, 
from the very first, their union was perfect. Time, 
which destroys all that is artificial, has only developed 
and confirmed this harmony. All the grand enterprises 
of France have had a religious as well as a national 
character. Her greatest men, Clovis, Charlemagne, St. 
Louis, have had a double aureola on their brow. They 
are as celebrated in the history of the Church as in that 
of France. The only hours in which our prosperity 
appeared for a moment to decline, were those in which 
we seemed desirous of separation from God. Our glori 
ous epochs, on the contrary, are contemporary with our 
greatest services rendered the Church. So true is this, 
that the idea now possesses all minds that we are a priv 
ileged race, a sort of royal priesthood, charged to pro 
tect and defend truth, justice, and virtue, and gain for 
them the world s respect. Protestantism would drag 
us down from our unique rank. This mission that we 
believe to have received at Tolbiac; this title of Eldest 
Sons of the Church, gratefully decreed us by the 
Papacy; this distinctive feature of a nation the most 
Catholic, the freest, the most devoted, and the most in- 
dependent, in which we find soldiers, apostles, Sisters of 
Charity; in fine, the watch we have kept as sentinels for 
twelve long centuries at the door of Rome, must we 
renounce? Must we sheathe Charlemagne s trusty 
sword? France shuddered at the thought; and, with 



State of t lie Church in France at her Birth. 21 

characteristic ardor, turned once more to the old religion 
of her fathers ! 

I do not think history records a more acute, a more 
general emotion than that which seized upon France in 
1589, at the death of Henry III. He had no children, 
and his only heir was a Huguenot. We have had in 
our hands a number of manuscripts of the sixteenth 
century: deliberations of parliament, municipal acts, 
private papers never intended for publicity; and we 
should never be able to recount the expressions of con 
sternation therein recorded at the thought of an heret 
ical king. The ardent emotion that then burst forth 
was subdued by the cool determination to suffer every 
thing rather than accept him. What happened in Paris 
at the announcement of Henry III. s death was renewed 
throughout France. " In place of the acclamations of 
* Vive le roif usual on such occasions, hats were slouched 
over eyes by some, or thrown to the ground by 
others; whilst others again, unwilling to have a Hugue 
not king, clinched their fists, or grasped hands in 
pledge of their vow: Rather death a thousand times!" 1 

Then began those public prayers, those solemn pil 
grimages; those processions, too noisy, if you will, but 
so expressive and, on the part of the people, so sincere; 
in fine, all those manifestations that, far better than the 
League, made Henry IV. understand how true were the 
dying words of Henry III.: "Cousin, you will never be 
king of France if you do not become a Catholic." The 
sincerity of the conversion of Henry IV. has been ques 
tioned. But were it even true, which we do not believe, 
that he yielded to human views in the accomplishment 
of that great act, what better proof could we wish of 
the depth and invincible force of the religious current 
that then bore France along? 

Two-and-twenty years of the most reparative of reigns 
had passed, when France, after the unlooked-for good 
1 Histoire universelle de d Aubign, t. iii. liv. ii. ch. xxii. 



22 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

fortune of finding so great a man in the midst of such 
a storm, saw him fall under the implacable dagger of 
the malcontent.?. A new cry of anguish escaped her 
lips, and she ^:/l for the second time that she was about 
to be ingulfeJ, that she had no longer any hope but in 
God. Mer/", passions were but lightly slumbering, and 
there v/^i f: no barriers to restrain them. The hostile 
parties were so irreconcilable that the hand of Richelieu 
could with difficulty subdue them, and so unpatriotic 
that they were ever ready to call in foreign aid. The 
powerful house of Austria surrounded France with a 
band of iron, menacing at the time her frontiers; and 
when, after a stormy minority, Louis XIII. reached man 
hood, by one of those strokes in which Richelieu s policy 
was revealed, he married Anne of Austria. This was a 
brilliant but sterile union. No children hence, no fu 
ture! France, full of alarm, again asked herself, in the 
event of the king s death, into whose hands the most 
Christian kingdom was to fall. Prayers were offered, pil 
grimages revived. The king and the queen implored the 
intercession of the most saintly persons the venerable 
Mother de Chantal, Blessed Mary of the Incarnation, 
the humble Sister Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, M. 
Olier, cure of St. Sulpice, and a host of others that God 
would be pleased to send an heir to the race of St. 
Louis. Finally, as individual prayers did not suffice to 
avert perils so great, King Louis XIII. descended from 
his throne, went to Notre Dame, and there solemnly 
consecrated to the Blessed Virgin his person and his 
kingdom. All France joined enthusiastically in this 
consecration. 

Contemporaries have left us long and curious details 
of that solemn action; painters and engravers have rep^ 
resented it in a thousand ways. But what is most im 
portant to note is its astonishing result. The self-same 
year in which France was consecrated to Mary, 1637, 
the child was born who was to be called Louis XIV., 



State of the Church in France at her Birth. 23 

and who was to reign for two-and-seventy years of the 
most eventful epoch of our history. Six years later, in 
1643, a young captain, like Clovis of old, received on 
the battle-field one of those sudden lights that change 
the face of the world. Rocroy, realizing at last the 
dream so patiently pursued by Henry IV., Louis XIII. , 
and Richelieu, snatched from Austria the preponder 
ance of European power, and transferred it to France., 
At the same time was seen arise a phalanx of geniuses: 
statesmen, warriors, orators, poets, and first-class prose 
writers, a single one of whom would suffice for the 
glory of an age. Their numbers were so great, their 
variety so rich, that no nation, not even Greece in her 
palmiest days, could offer anything comparable to it. 
To this powerful sixteenth century, so agitated, so 
troubled, so devoured by detestable passions, in which 
grand national unity, as well as national grandeur, was 
at every hour jeopardized, succeeded that calm and 
magnificent period which saw France become the envy 
and admiration of the world; that period in which 
Bossuet spoke, Pascal thought, Fenelon wrote, Corneille 
and Racine sang, Fontaine smiled. Every year pro 
duced a masterpiece. Enthusiastic France looked on 
in rapturous surprise and amazement. She produced 
for herself and the world a spectacle of the most mag 
nificent intellectual development, moral and religious, 
that the world had yet witnessed. This was the result 
of the vow of Louis XIII., the smile of the Mother of 
God on the people consecrated to her honor. 

But gifts, even the rarest, do not dispense a people 
from energetically rejecting the last dregs of poison, 
nor from vigilance against relapses into error. Whilst 
Europe contemplated with astonishment this nation, at 
one time fallen so low and agitated by convulsions so 
terrible, then raised so suddenly to the pinnacle of 
greatness, the year 1675 saw her visibly decline, and suc 
ceeding years beheld her prosperity gradually diminish, 



24 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Like the patriarch who, after wrestling all night with 
the angel, rose .up in the morning victorious though 
wounded; so France, from her fearful contest against 
Protestantism, rose indeed, but not without marks of 
her struggle. 

The violent attacks of Protestantism against the Pa 
pacy, its calumnies so manifest, the odious caricaturesit 
scattered abroad, had undoubtedly inspired France 
with horror; nevertheless the sad impression remained. 
In such accusations all, perhaps, was not false, Mis 
trust was excited, and, instead of drawing closer to the 
insulted and outraged Papacy, France stood on her 
guard against it. In vain did Fenelon, who felt the dan 
ger, write his treatise on the " Power of the Pope," and, to 
remind France of her sublime mission and true role in 
the world, compose his " History of Charlemagne." In 
vain did Bossuet majestically rise in the midst of that 
agitated assembly of 1682, convened to dictate laws to 
the Holy See, and there, in most touching accents, give 
vent to professions of fidelity and devotedness toward the 
Chair of St. Peter. We already notice in his discourse 
mention no longer made of the " Sovereign Pontiff." 
The " Holy See," the " Chair of St. Peter," the " Roman 
Church," were alone alluded to. First and, alas! too 
manifest signs of coldness in the eyes of him who knew 
the nature and character of France! Others might 
obey through duty, might allow themselves to be gov 
erned by principle France, never! She must be ruled 
by an individual, she must love him that governs her, 
else she can never obey. 

These weaknesses should at least have been hidden 
in the shadow of the sanctuary, to await the time in 
which some sincere and honest solution of the misun 
derstanding could be given. But no! parliaments took 
hold of it, national vanity identified itself with it. A 
strange spectacle was now seen. A people the most 
1 This history is, unfortunately, lost. 



State of the Church in France at her Birth, 25 

Catholic in the world; kings who called themselves the 
Eldest Sons of the Church and who were really such at 
heart; grave and profoundly Christian magistrates, 
bishops, and priests, though in the depths of their heart 
attached to Catholic unity, all busied in barricading 
themselves against the head of the Church; all dig 
ging trenches and building ramparts, that His words 
might not reach the Faithful before being handled and 
examined, and the laics convinced that they contained 
nothing false, hostile, or dangerous. 

God keep me from saying any harm of the old French 
Church ! We have not forgotten that, only a century 
before, the bishops of England apostatized at the com 
mand of Henry VIII. ; whilst, in 1793, even after the 
enervating effects of the eighteenth century, the French 
bishops and priests ascended the scaffold, or went into 
exile, rather than separate from Catholic unity. It is 
not vess true that the Church of France at that period 
was no longer closely united with the Pope. That 
great luminary of the Church, as St. Francis de Sales 
calls His Holiness, met in France too much that was 
opposed to the benign influence of its rays ; conse 
quently there resulted a diminution of life-giving 
warmth, of sap, and of fecundity. This was the first 
wound dealt us by Protestantism, and from it the 
Church of France bled for two centuries. 

There was at the same time a second, perhaps a more 
dangerous, wound. The blasphemies uttered by Prot 
estants against the Blessed Sacrament could not be 
heard without a thrill of horror. Was there not, how 
ever, some truth in what the reformers said? Was it 
not the light and irreverent conduct of Catholics toward 
the Holy Eucharist that gave rise to those blasphemies ? 
Would it not be better to abstain from holy Commun 
ion, or henceforth to make use of it with more reserve ? 
Vainly did Fenelon, whose intuitive perception told 
him all, write his famous letter on " Frequent Commun- 



26 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ion." Vainly did Bossuet pour out his great soul in his 
admirable " Meditations on the Discourse after the Last 
Supper." Naught availed. Arnauld s book on " Fre 
quent Communion," or rather against it, received uni 
versal approbation, and began to direct the conscience 
of many. 

Such writers did unquestionably reject with fear the 
blind predestination of Protestantism ; but under the 
pretext of a reaction against the softness of Catholic 
morals, they led souls to despair. Massillon uncon 
sciously headed the crusade against the mercy of God 
by his famous discourse on the small number of the elect ; 
and Pascal followed with his biting irony on the Society 
of Jesus, guilty only of the crime of maintaining and 
defending the goodness, tenderness, and mercy of God 
in His relations toward sinners. 

All these tendencies were floating, so to say, in the 
air, vague and undecided, when Jansenism appeared, 
seized upon them, and reduced them to definitive shape. 
Jansenism is the most astonishing heresy that has 
afflicted the Church. Its doctrine is, after all, only a 
shameful form of Protestantism, for their fundamental 
principle is the same. It is the doctrine of a God 
whose love is half-hearted ; who came upon earth, but 
who had not the heart to die for all men ; who dwells, 
it is true, in the Holy Eucharist, though one does not 
precisely know why, for He wishes that we receive Him 
therein as seldom as possible ; who has established the 
tribunal of mercy and pardon, but has hedged it round 
with such conditions as to render it unapproachable. 

In order to get a hold on the mind of the people and 
make these ideas familiar to them, Jansenism concealed 
the beautiful crucifixes of Christian ages, on which the 
Saviour is represented with arms widely extended to 
embrace all mankind, and eyes tenderly lowered to the 
earth to attract all souls to Himself. They replaced 
them by the hideous little images still found in some 



State of the Church in France at her Birth. 27 

houses, poverty-stricken and ugly, the hands of the 
Saviour fastened perpendicularly above His head, to en 
close within them as few souls as possible, aod His eyes 
so raised toward heaven as no longer to behold the earth. 
Instead of .these words, so sweet to faith, engraven above 
tabernacles in which the God of love resides : Quam 
dilecta tabernacnla tua Domine ! (" How lovely are Thy 
tabernacles, O Lord of hosts !" ) they substituted such 
words as these : " Keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my 
sanctuary. I am the Lord." Jansenius wrote treatises 
on frequent Communion, that is to say, against it ; and 
he made lavish use of his erudition to teach the Faith 
ful to absent themselves from it as much as possible. 
Toward the Sovereign Pontiff this serpent-like heresy 
pursued the same policy. It did not deny His power, as 
do Protestants, but it worked with incredible skill. It 
knew how to do without Him, and even to disobey Him 
with profound respect. That is to say, wherever Prot 
estantism denied, Jansenism was hypocritical. Both 
aimed, though by different means, at the same result, 
namely, the diminution of divine love in souls. 

There was no hope of escaping such dangers except 
by an energetic reaction of faith and piety. The infinite 
love of God should have been boldly affirmed ; souls 
should have been urged to approach the holy table, to 
frequent Communion ; they should have been cast into 
the arms of the Sovereign Pontiff, as children more 
obedient, more tenderly devoted, than ever. But this 
was not the case. Some allowed themselves to be 
frightened by simulated austerity, and others were 
seduced by these grand words : " Return to the disci 
pline of the primitive Church." Sentinels did not per 
form their duty, some were traitors ; and little by little 
Jansenism penetrated everywhere, not as a doctrine in 
which souls believed, but as an influence to which they 
yielded. The most fervent communities, the most 
austere cloisters, were not preserved from it. They 
1 Ps. Ixxxiii. i. 2 Levit. xxvi. 2. 



28 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

inhaled it, almost unsuspectingly, like those subtle poi 
sons floating in the air, which bear with them death 
sometimes, disease always. 

From these combined influences there resulted in 
France, at the end of the seventeenth century and dur 
ing the whole of the eighteenth, a corruption of the true 
spirit of the Gospel, a kind of semi-Christianity, com 
monplace and cold, utterly incapable of captivating 
souls. The conquering charm of Christianity, the prin 
ciple of its eternal fruitfulness, is the dogma of God s 
infinite love for man, that grand doctrine, at once so 
full of mystery and yet so luminous, of a God who 
loves man unto passion. In the same measure as one 
approaches it, whether entirely to deny or merely to 
diminish this infinite love, one sees die out or sensibly 
decrease that sublime inebriation which makes virgins, 
apostles, and martyrs, that folly of man responding to 
the folly of God. The world had had a first example in 
the absolute sterility of Protestantism ; and France was 
about to offer a second, which, though less perfect, was 
none the less striking ; since, without absolutely denying 
infinite love, it was con tent with an unintelligible concep 
tion of it. 

In proportion as this quasi-Christianity spread over 
France, the sublime inspirations of faith and piety 
became weaker. During the whole of the eighteenth 
century there was but one new institution, that of 
de la Salle, a tardy scion of the great tree of which 
some years before it was impossible to number the 
new shoots. The old institutions languished, and 
some literally died out. In France, virgins and apos 
tles, souls consecrated to God, became fewer and fewer. 
The old abbeys were too spacious for their inmates 
daily diminishing m numbers; and in revenge at not 
being able to people them, they pulled them down. 
The riches no longer necessary, since the monasteries 
were now deserted, were used in demolishing the old 
cloisters of the twelfth pnH the thirteenth centuries, so 



State of the Church in France at her Birth. 29 

interesting in point of art, which had been erected by 
saints, and embalmed with the still living traces of their 
footsteps. They replaced them by magnificent abbeys 
in the style of Versailles, that is to say, as destitute of 
style as of reminiscences. The same spectacle was wit 
nessed in the ranks of the clergy, among whom were 
found some zealous priests, some men of duty, but no 
saints. All was mediocre, no enthusiasm, no fire. Mis 
sions died out, and a sensible diminution of warmth 
and life was everywhere felt. As one sometimes sees a 
grand old tree no longer shooting its huge branches 
toward heaven, no longer clothed in luxuriant foliage, 
because of the wound at the root, so the Church of 
France gave signs of deep-seated disease. 

This was, however, only the beginning of the trouble. 
Whilst within the Church pious souls grew cold, the 
breath of irreligion was blowing without. This half- 
Christianity, which had not sufficient beauty to enrap 
ture souls, was still less capable of opposing the detest 
able effects of Protestantism. They filtered through, if 
we may dare so to speak, the swaying and disjointed 
dikes. In the same way as Luther and Calvin tore the 
Creed to pieces and scoffed at the Church, Voltaire and 
Rousseau cut up the Gospel and mocked at Jesus Christ. 
By virtue of the same right, also, and supported on the 
same principles, Diderot, d Holbach, Helvetius, Lamet- 
trie, denied the immortality of the soul, and jeered at a 
future life. Nothing in the intellectual, moral, or relig 
ious order was respected. A spirit of universal revolt 
agitated France, till then so devoted to her kings. Never 
had there been so much said of tenderness, benevolence, 
philanthropy; yet never had hearts been harder. In 
tense egotism dried them up. Never had men been 
more gracious, more amiable, more frizzed and powdered, 
more fascinating; but never had men so heartily de 
spised one another. The one step between contempt 
and hatred was cleared at a single bound toward the 



30 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

close of the eighteenth century. A hatred till then un 
known, universal and ferocious, filled souls. The day 
came on which that hatred, no longer able to restrain 
itself, burst forth. Then fearful scenes were witnessed. 
Scaffolds were erected, and to them were dragged the 
king, the queen, the royal family, the nobles, clergy, 
parliament, all kinds of people. Men were drunk with 
blood. They massacred one another without being 
able to satisfy the madness that dishonored them. 

But if this hatred of man for man was at the time 
inexplicable, if it pointed to some prodigious derange 
ment in the French nature, what shall we say of the 
hatred of men for God ? Everything that recalled His 
memory was odious. They cut priests throats; burnt 
monasteries, broke crucifixes, riddled statues at the 
church doors ; profaned altars by the most revo tir.g ob 
scenities; rolled consecrated Hosts in the cH 7 .Lf, then 
cast them into the flames, and performed around them 
lascivious dances. Never before had the like shocked 
Heaven. During the early part of the nineteenth cen 
tury, there were seen in our cities and villages wander 
ers whom the sight of such horrors had crazed. 

Behold what the French nation, so noble, so generous, 
had become! That old Frankish race which had con 
tracted with Jesus Christ so beautiful an alliance; which 
had received from Heaven incomparable gifts; which, 
magnificent in gratitude, had cast on the religion of Jesus 
Christ the greatest human glory ever received from any 
nation; whose kings esteemed themselves honored in 
being called the Eldest Sons of the Church, behold how 
it has fallen ! Love grew cold, and then, as often hap 
pens, we see it totally extinguished in hatred against 
self and God. We behold the descendants of those 
sturdy Franks with cries of fury tearing out their own 
intestines, if we may use the expression, and France be 
come an enduring example of a nation straying from its 
course and unfaithful to its mission. 



State of the Church in France at her Birth. 3 1 

Still this ebullition of hatred was not the saddest 
symptom. Coldness soon entered into its hatred, as 
once before into its love. For that Christ whom it had 
loved so much, it now felt only indifference. We be 
hold France during the first fifty years of the nineteenth 
century coolly effacing His name from her laws and 
constitutions. Even His memory she could no longer 
tolerate in her official life. She banished Him from her 
soil; but being forced to let Him return, she inclosed 
Him in His churches, or, as she said disdainfully, in His 
sacristies, and forbade Him to appear in public. Thus 
unfaithful and adulterous, after an explosion of rage 
against Him who had so much loved her, she sought 
even to efface Him from her memory. 

What a misfortune could such things be done with 
impunity! But God does not permit that. The woman 
who has once freely given her heart may desert the ob 
ject of her choice, may throw herself into the arms of 
her guilty love, may be intoxicated for the moment ; but 
happiness has fled from her forever. Never again can 
she taste the peaceful charm of innocent affection; never 
again can she knowthe dignity of the wife, the honorof the 
mother, and those other joys so unmixed because blessed 
by God. Thus it is with France in her sad nineteenth 
century, now drawing to a close. Unfaithful to her 
mission, she has lived to behold her grandest gifts 
turned against herself. Vainly has she called science 
and genius to her aid. France is no longer the same. 
She no longer exerts a world-wide influence. She no 
longer rests on the same elevated plain; each day sees a 
new step toward the abyss. Yesterday, in the name of 
pietended political rights, she banished her kings and 
tore her constitutions into shreds. To-day, there is 
question as to whether she will guard the family tie, 
the right of property; whether, in fact, society itself 
shall remain standing. One catastrophe evokes another. 
France is quaking to her very foundations; and we may 



32 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

confidently look forward to the time in which an honest 
man will not find on the once generous soil of France a 
stone whereon to rest his head. 

And yet she pursues her follies. She sows impiety 
broadcast. She makes use of her beautiful language, 
that ideal tongue, to propagate the brutalities of athe 
ism and materialism. Impious and voluptuous, she 
dances on Vesuvius in flames. The world looks on 
alarmed, and asks what would become of the remnant of 
faith, of religion and morality, in Europe, if France were 
still queen of the nations. 

One might have thought that, after such an abandon 
ment of her sacred vocation, God would have indignantly 
rejected France, that He would have withdrawn her 
mission, and with it the gifts received for its accomplish 
ment, but which have now become useless to her. But 
in those pitiable divorces in which man sunders what 
God had united, something very wonderful occasionally 
happens, and that is, the abandoned, the betrayed, the 
unloved, continues to love. He pursues the unfaithful 
one with a love from which love never dies. He multi 
plies benefits in his eagerness to reach the heart from 
which he cannot sever his own. He says with the poet: 

" I have lavished them upon thee, 
I wish to lavish them upon thee." 

This was what was seen here. Knowing France, know 
ing that no nation is so capable of excesses so sad; but 
knowing, also, that none can compare with her in fervor 
of repentance, none in ardor of love, God resolved to 
conquer her by the force of His own tenderness. One 
day He appeared and, laying bare His breast, showed 
her His Heart, and demanded hers in return. Eighteen 
hundred years have rolled away since Jesus Christ died 
on the Cross, and no genius has yet succeeded in repre 
senting Him to us in His ideal beauty. After Raphael 
and Leonardo da Vinci, even after Blessed Angelico, the 



State of the Church in France at her Birth. 33 

crucifix is still a piece of art greater than any painting. 
And so it will be with this second revelation of infinite 
love. No one will succeed in portraying the apparition 
of Jesus to France and to the world: that look in which 
reproach was drowned in tenderness; that gesture of un 
recognized love; that breast glowing like a furnace; 
that Heart shining like the sun ! All this will reach the 
ideal of beauty only in the ecstatic contemplations of the 
saints; and the ages as they roll on will learn from 
astonished humanity the grandeur of this stupendous 
event. Two hundred years since the apparition took 
place, and we are yet too near to measure its ma 
jestic proportions. It was born at a time in which 
France deemed herself at the pinnacle of her glory; but 
in which God, who sounds the heart and reins of man, 
already perceived the worm about to touch the flower 
and blight it on its stem. Unknown, or vaguely under 
stood, in the eighteenth century, which was too sceptical 
and too sensual for emotions so pure; not shown upon 
our altars till the nineteenth century; having need of 
overwhelming misfortunes to be welcomed by society 
in its distress, the devotion to the Heart of Jesus will 
probably not reach the sublime acme of its expansion 
until the twentieth century, when will be drawn the last 
consequences of the fatal principles that are now ruining 
us, and when shall occur misfortunes more frightful than 
those we have yet experienced. Then, in that storm of 
consummate evil, shall arise the perfect remedy. France 
shall lift her despairing eyes to that Heart " which has 
so loved men." She will consecrate herself to its infinite 
love, and thus arise from the abyss. 

In expectation of this glorious event, we must study 
the genesis of the great devotion. For this we must 
transport ourselves to Paray-le-Monial, where it was re 
vealed, stopping on our way at Verosvres, where was 
born the lowly virgin to whom it was first confided its 
first apostle, the humble Margaret. 



34 -(/ of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER II. 

BIRTH OF BLESSED MARGARET MARY. FIRST YEARS. 
CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH. 

1647-1662. 

" Sicut lilium!" 

" As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters .* 
Cant. ii. 2. 

" Tota pulchra es, arnica mea, et macula non est in te." 

"Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee." 
Cant. iv. 7. 




setting out from Paray for Verosvres, one leaves 
on his right the little town of Charolles. He 
admires as he passes along the sweet and tran 
quil beauty of the horizon s broad lines imperceptibly 
lost in the distance, and, at a turn of a high, wooded 
mountain, comes suddenly upon a landscape whose 
novelty strikes him with surprise. It is a vast amphi 
theatre of granite rocks, four leagues, perhaps, by five. 
One might think them moulded from the molten mass of 
earth s first formation, and then suddenly cooled. They 
form against the horizon a chain of jagged mountain- 
peaks, rising one above the other like the tiers of an am 
phitheatre. In vain has ever-fruitful nature scattered 
amidst these deeply embedded rocks and on their lofty 
summits clusters of tall oaks, and even some sombre 
forest pines. At every turn the granite surface dis 
places the verdure, and immense blocks rising through 
the trees produce the effect of gigantic ruins. 

If one looks back from the distant horizon, a similar 
scene presents itself. Deep, narrow valleys, sudden 
projections; ponds that seem to occupy the place of ex 
tinct craters; streams of clear, sparkling spring-water, 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 35 

the happy privilege of granite soil; and here and there 
in the fields enormous blocks, framed in wild broom 
and heath rising to the sun. Now we have the picture; 
and it would be sombre were it not so varied. There 
is in it something sublime and austere that invites one 
to silence and recollection. The vast horizon, the lofty 
mountains, the massive rocks that defy man s power to 
move; the sterile soil that exacts abundant sweat, 
and gives but poor harvests in return, all these make 
felt the grandeur of God and the littleness of man. We 
might say that this corner of the world was created ex 
pressly to awaken the desire for heaven. 

In the centre of the amphitheatre and on its highest 
peak, rises a church, rebuilt unhappily, and now dedi 
cated to the Sacred Heart. This is the church of Ver- 
osvres. The village, instead of grouping around 
the church, is scattered in all directions. We noticed 
on different sides groups of houses forming little ham 
lets, inhabited by husbandmen and farmers. Each of 
these hamlets has its name. It was in that of Lhautecour, 

1 The new church has been rebuilt some years. Although we grant 
that the old one in which Margaret was baptized, in which she prayed, 
received holy Communion so frequently, and was ravished into ecstasy, 
needed rebuilding, yet an intelligent and Christian architect like those 
of the Middle Ages would have found means to enclose the most pre 
cious parts of the old edifice in the new. For example, the apse with 
its altar and Communion-table he would have made a chapel. Instead 
of this, everything was destroyed, razed to the ground, not a stone 
preserved. Even the altar was demolished; even the baptismal font 
was not spared. At Assisi is shown the font in which St, Francis was 
baptized; in Spain, that of St. Dominic; at Siena, the spot upon which 
St. Catharine knelt: but here in Verosvres is found nothing suggestive 
of sweet reminiscences. A huge, cold church without souvenir or 
legend. Alas! God grant that what has been done here be not soon 
repeated at Ars! There, too, has been begun an immense church, which 
threatens the destruction of the poor old one of the venerable cure. 
Even a short time after his death we approached the confessional in 
which he passed his life, and which ought to be held sacred as a relic, and 
we found a missionary of Ars installed in it! Oh, how frivolous is our 



36 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

running in a right line behind the apse of the church 
and within a quarter of an hour s distance from it, that 
Margaret Mary was born. 1 

Her father was Claude Alacoque. He belonged to 
that portion of the French nation which, in 1647, was 
nothing and yet was preparing to be everything; which, 
while waiting, was silently amassing fortune and influ 
ence; which had not yet lost, thanks to God, either faith 
or morals. His dwelling, which is still standing, pos 
sesses a certain degree of style with its two large main 
buildings, separated by a courtyard. The first served 
as a family residence. It was commonly called the " cabi 
net house," because in it was the office of Mr. Alacoque, 
royal notary of Lhautecour. There is also to be seen 
the room in which Margaret was born, now transformed 
into a chapel and dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The 
beams and rafters of the ceiling are covered with alle 
gorical pictures in the Renaissance style. In the middle 
of them is a cartouch, supported by two cupids, on 
which are inscribed the Alacoque arms; for this family, 
already ancient, had its arms. " It bore on a field of 
gold a red cock at the summit, and a lion, also red, at the 
base of the shield." a This building was consumed by 
fire, traces of which are yet seen. It was rebuilt later 
on, but all that now remains of it is the square tower 
at the end of the edifice, in which Margaret Mary was 
born. 3 

1 One or two documents lightly studied and only partly understood 
have, in these latter times, cast a shade of obscurity on this point. We 
shall see in a note at the end of the volume that the fact is not even lo 
be questioned, and that a contemporaneous tradition,uninterrupted and 
unanimous, permits no doubt on the birth of Margaret at the hamlet of 
Lhautecour in the village of Verosvres. (See note A.) 

a " The coat-of -arms of Chrysostom Alacoque, mayor for life of 
Bois-Marie, bears on a field of gold a red cock at the summit, and a 
lion, also red, at the l>ase of the shield" (Tome ii. p. 205). See note 
B on the antiquity of the Alacoque family. 

3 The tradition of the country is that the residence of Mr. Ala- 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 37 

The other building is in front, perfect and entire, the 
entrance through an arched gateway now closed. It is 
probable that it also served as a dwelling for the Ala- 
coque family, either after the fire had consumed part of 
the adjoining house, or when their increase in numbers 
rendered the first too small. On the ground-floor were 
three large rooms, with large chimney-places and planks 
and beams black from age. An exterior gallery, the 
stairs to which were formed of large blocks of granite, 
now disjointed and broken, led to the second story, which 
consisted of two spacious apartments opening on the 
gallery. In the first, in a corner to the east, is found a 
small room which is still called the "Chamber of the 
Venerable." The ceiling is covered with pictures rep 
resenting a hunt, in which figure a lion, a tiger, an 
ostrich, an elephant, etc. These pictures are of the same 
style and appear to be by the same hand as that which 
ornamented the other parts of the building. There are 
no paintings in the second room, but it is beautifully 
floored with oak carefully joined, which sufficiently in 
dicates that the dwelling was not a mere farm-house. 

A court separates the two buildings. The old walls 
may still be seen, and, strange sight ! the roofs are 
formed of granite flags of a single piece. The whole is 
surrounded by gardens terminating in a little wood, 
which clothes the rapid descent into a narrow valley. 
This was the whole extent of the property. In the cen- 

coque, at least that portion of it which they called the " cabinet house," 
was destroyed by fire. M. 1 abbe Beauchamps testified to this fact in 
1 831, on the assurance of the oldest inhabitants of the country. Even 
before learning this tradition, it was evident to us. By a careful study 
of the first building, we discovered traces of fire, and saw that the re 
pairs had been made with inferior materials. The square tower, in 
which was the saint s chamber, had been converted into a chapel. It 
alone escaped the flames, and it alone presents an appearance of age. 
It was from not having proved this fact that M. 1 abbe Beauchamps 
and M. 1 abbe Devercheres blundered in their researches. They sought, 
we know not where, traces of a burned house, but sought in vain! 



38 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

tre of the little valley darts up one of those immense 
blocks of granite with which, as we have seen above, 
the whole country is sown. It formed for twenty years 
Margaret s chosen solitude, her refuge in hours of trial, 
the scene of her prayer, the witness of her first ecsta 
sies. 

The spacious dwelling had passed into the Alacoque 
family in consequence of the marriage of the grandfather 
of the saint with Jane Delaroche, 1 whose patrimony it 
was. Claude had received the title of eldest son, or 
perhaps, as was the custom, that of co-heir. He had an 
unmarried sister named Catharine, who lived with him. 
Another sister, named Benedicta, married Toussaint 
Delaroche, and became the mother of four children. 
In accordance with the custom of these patriarchal fam 
ilies, she, too, dwelt with her brother. Lastly, he had 
a brother named Antoine. He was in Holy Orders and, 
at this time, cure of Verosvres. Besides the care of his 
domain, the charge of which rested particularly on his 
brother-in-law Toussaint Delaroche, Mr. Claude Ala 
coque held the office of royal notary of Lhautecour. 
Later on he joined thereto the title of judge for the 
seigniories of la Roche, Terreau, Corcheval, and Pressy. 
All this, together with the highest reputation for honor 
and integrity, had made Claude a man of consideration 
scarcely a degree below the neighboring nobility, and 
very much superior to the common people. 

Hence we find his name on every page of the parish 
register of Verosvres. There is not a marriage at Lhau 
tecour in which he does not figure as witness, and, 
what is more extraordinary, scarcely a baptism in which 
he is not godfather. In the latter case, whether owing 
to his title of royal notary or on account of his beauti- 

1 See Appendix, note B, Genealogy of the Alacoques. We shall 
see that they were originally of the hamlet of Audour, parish of Dom- 
pierre-les-Ormes, and that this grandfather of Margaret, who married, 
Jane Delaroche, came to reside at Lhautecour. 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 39 

ful penmanship, his brother Antoine, cure of Verosvres, 
invariably handed him the pen, and it was he who reg 
istered the proceeding. 

In 1639, M. Claude Alacoque, hardly five-and-twenty 
years old, married Mile. Philiberte Lamyn, then nine 
teen. Both were pious and worthy of giving birth to a 
saint. Of this union, blessed by God, were born seven 
children, four sons and three daughters. 1 

Margaret was the fifth child. She was born on July 
22, 1647, feast of St. Magdalen, and was not baptized, 
we know not why, until three days after, the 25th, in 
the church of Verosvres. Her own uncle, her father s 
brother, M. Antoine Alacoque, cure of Verosvres, was 
her godfather. The godmother was Madame Margue 
rite de Saint-Amour, wife of M. de Fautrieres, lord of 
Corcheval. 2 The noble family wished to give this pub 
lic proof of the high esteem in which they held M. Ala 
coque. 

God, who destined this holy child to rekindle in the 
world the fire of His divine love, wished that she herself 
should first be consumed in it. As a little one, she 
breathed only for Jesus Christ, she feared only to dis- 

1 See note C at the end of the volume. We find there the records of 
the birth of Margaret s brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts. We are 
indebted to the kindness of M. 1 abbe Dessolin, cure of Verosvres, who 
searched up and copied these precious parish registers. He thus helped 
us to solve some of the very delicate problems one meets in the early 
part of Blessed Margaret Mary s life ; though we are unable to do 
more, as the necessary data are wanting. 

2 Here is the baptismal register : 

" Margaret, daughter of M. Claude Alacoque, royal notary, and of 
Lady Philiberte la Main, was baptized by the undersigned, cure of 
Verosvres, Wednesday, July 25, 1647. I, Rev. Antoine Alacoque, 
was her godfather (en surcharge), and Toussaint de la Roche held her 
over the baptismal font. Her godmother was Mademoiselle Margue 
rite de St. Amour, wife of Mons. de Corcheval, who are subscribed. 
" C. DE FAUTRIERES. M. DE ST. AMOUR. 

CORCHP:VAL. ANT. ALACOQUE." 

The original is preserved in the presbytery of 



4O Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

please Him. " From the age of two or three years," 
writes her first historian, " she had so great horror of 
even the least shadow of sin, that to curb her childish 
inclinations it was sufficient to tell her that it was offen 
sive to God. Nothing more was necessary ; she yielded 
at once." 

" O my only Love," exclaims Margaret, " how in 
debted I am to Thee for having prevented me from my 
tenderest youth, for having made Thyself Master of my 
heart ! As soon as I came to the use of reason, Thou 
didst display before my soul the deformity of sin, and 
this impressed me with such horror for it that the least 
stain was to me insupportable torment. To restrain the 
vivacity of my childhood, my friends had only to say 
that what I wished was perhaps displeasing to God. 
This put an end to my childish pranks." 3 

1 " Abridgment of the Life of Sister Margaret M. Alacoque, Relig 
ious of the Visitation of Holy Mary, of whom God made use to estab 
lish devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, and who died in the 
odor of sanctity, October 17, 1690." Published at Lyons by Antoine 
and Horace Molin, 1691, the year following the death of Margaret 
Mary. It has been republished in our times by Rev. C. Daniel, in one 
vol. I2mo (Paris, Douniol, 1865). 

2 " Memoire " written by the saint by order of Rev. Father Rollin, her 
director. Autographic MSS. belonging to the Visitation of Paray. Of 
the different Memoires written by the saint in obedience to her direct 
ors, this is the only one that has escaped the flames, the same power 
forbidding its destruction. It was never finished. But as it begins 
with her birth and includes the revelations of the Sacred Heart, it is 
of inestimable value, as well for the relation itself, as for the manner 
in which her story is told. One feels impressed at every instant with 
the sublimity of a Teresa and the heart-felt and touching utterances of 
an Augustine. It alone suffices to prove the truth of the revelations, 
whilst demonstrating the beauty, sincerity, purity, and humility of the 
soul to whom they were made. We shall copy from it as often as pos 
sible, thus giving it to our readers almost entire. It was first edited 
by Pere de Gallifet, at the end of his beautiful treatise on " The Ex 
cellence of Devotion to the Adorable Heart of Jesus Christ." Pere 
Charles Daniel republished it in 1865. Many other editions appeared 
in the mean time, but in all were detected numerous faults. In 1867 



Birth, CJiildJiood, and Youth. 41 

Her brother Chrysostom relates a charming example 
in this connection. "Whilst still a child," said he, " she 
evinced singular marks of sanctity, fervor, and horror 
of sin. Once at carnival-time when I was seven years 
old and my little sister five, I proposed to exchange 
dress with her. Mine was a soldier s suit, and I had a 
sword with which I was going to sally forth against the 
farmers whom I espied approaching. Margaret replied 
that it would perhaps offend God and that she did not 
wish to do anything displeasing to Him. She had no 
desire either to imitate or to accompany the maskers. 
The child was then o.nly five years old." ] 

To this delicacy of conscience was added such a love 
of prayer, with instincts for penance so precocious and 
so astonishing, that there is no room to doubt, say her 
first historians, that for several centuries her like was 



the Visitation of Paray determined to publish a carefully collated edi 
tion of the original. It formed part of the work entitled " Life and 
Works of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque," 2 vols. 8vo (Paris, Pous^ 
sielgue, 1867). This is the edition from which we shall cite. 

1 " Process of Beatification and Canonization of the Venerable Servant 
of God, Margaret Mary Alacoque, Religious of the Visitation, B. V. M., 
of the Convent of Paray in Burgundy," published by authority of the 
ordinary in 1715; i vol. in folio MS. belonging to the Visitation oi 
Paray, approved and signed by the ecclesiastical commissaries. W 
have carefully studied it, and all our citations are made from th( 
original. 

2 " Life of the Blessed by Contemporaries." They call this a 
"M6moire" written by two of the religious of Paray contemporary with 
Margaret Mary: Sister Frances Rosalie Verchere and Sister Peronne 
Rosalie de Farges. This "Memoire had been compiled for Mgr. Lan- 
guet, Archbishop of Sens, Vicar-General of Autun, when he was pre 
paring to write the " Life of the Blessed." After using it, and the 
"Life" had appeared (i vol. 4to, 1719), he returned to the Visitation 
of Paray this "Memoire," which formed the basis of his work. Con 
sidered henceforth useless, it remained among the MSS. in the archives 
of the convent. Finally, the religious of Paray published a first edition 
carefully collated from the original and even increased from documents 
preserved in their archives. It forms the first volume of the work 



42 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

At the age of four and a half years, Margaret left her 
father s house to reside with her godmother, Mme. de 
Fautrieres de Corcheval, who greatly desired to have 
the child with her. Perhaps the increasing number of 
M. Alacoque s children, already seven, had inspired this 
noble lady with the thought of relieving the burden of 
so excellent a family. Perhaps, too, having no children, 
a privation always regretted by her, she proposed to 
adopt her little godchild. M. and Mme. Alacoque, 
having their child s interest at heart, consented. This 
they did all the more readily, as the castle of Corcheval 
was only a league from Lhautecour, and, as M. Claude 
was judge of that manor, as well as of Terreau, he was 
frequently obliged to go thither. Mme. Alacoque pre 
pared her dear little daughter, and took her herself to 
Corcheval. Built in the far-off past, stripped of its 
towers by Coligny, who demolished them during the 
religious wars when he held possession, and restored 
under the reign of Louis XIII., the chateau de Corcheval 
still stands, joining to the massive architecture of the 
feudal ages the imposing appearance of the magnifi 
cent castles of the seventeenth century. A high moun 
tain covered with forests overshadows it, and the most 
beautiful trees in the world, a clump of young horn 
beams three centuries old, wave their verdant branches 
under the very windows. The whole place breathes 
solitude, and here our holy child developed the rare 
beauty of her innocent soul. The deep shadows of the 
groves and forest attracted her. " My greatest desire," 
said she, "was to bury myself in some wood; and 
nothing prevented me from gratifying it but the fear 
of meeting men." 

Just outside the gate of the castle, and on the very 
same terrace, stood the chapel, shaded also by horn- 
entitled "Life and Works of the Blessed," of which we are now 
speaking. 

1 Memoire, p. 290. 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 43 

beam-trees. Here the little girl often retired. " Here 
she passed long hours kneeling, her little hands joined. 
Far from growing weary, she esteemed no pleasure in life 
equal to that tasted in those moments of silent prayer, 
which was never discontinued but with regret." 1 

"I was constantly urged," she says, "to repeat these 
words, the sense of which I did not understand: My 
God, I consecrate to Thee my purity! My God, I make 
to Thee a vow of perpetual chastity! Once I repeated 
them between the two elevations of holy Mass, which I 
generally heard on my bare knees however cold the 
weather might be. I did not know what I had done, 
nor what the words vow and chastity signified." ; She 
understood but one thing, and that was that thest 
mysterious words, which hovered constantly on her 
lips at the most solemn moments, meant the complete 
gift of herself to a God whom she esteemed worthy of 
all gifts. 

At the same time there was born in her that attrac 
tion for prayer which was to make her one of the great 
est contemplatives ever known in the Church. " Frorr 
this early age," says Pere Croiset, " the Holy Ghos\ 
Himself wished to teach her the fundamental point of 
the interior life, and bestow upon her the spirit of 
prayer. Whenever she could not be found on her knees 
in some part of the house, her friends were accustomed 
to look for her in the church; and there she was sure to 
be discovered immovable before the Blessed Sacra 
ment." 

The weak health of Mme. de Corcheval did not per 
mit her to superintend, as she wished, Margaret s edu 
cation; therefore she remitted that charge to two of 
her lady companions, who taught the child to pray, to 
read and write, and to study the catechism. One of 
these ladies was gracious and amiable, but Margaret 

1 Croiset, AbrJg/, p. 3. 2 M6moire, p. 290. 



44 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

fled from her. The other, though harsh and severe, 
failed not to attract the little pupil, who preferred the 
rebuffs of the one to the caresses of the other. The 
sequel will show that this surprising conduct was owing 
to one of those secret instincts which God implants in 
pure hearts; for later on it was discovered that she who 
appeared so gracious was not all that she seemed. 

Horror of evil, desire of solitude, flight from men, 
love of purity, behold the first impressions engraven 
by God in the soul of this holy child, now in her sixth 
year! To perfect the picture here given, we must add 
that from her cradle she united to all other graces a 
most tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. "I had 
recourse to her," she says, " in all my needs, and she 
warded off great dangers from me. I ventured not to 
address myself to her Son, but I feared not to go to her. 
I offered her the little crown of the Rosary on my bare 
knees on the ground, or else I made as many genuflec 
tions as there are Ave Marias, or I kissed the ground at 
each." The Blessed Virgin never lets herself be out 
done in love; and, from her earliest childhood, the dear 
little one received most signal graces. 

There was no cure for Mme. de Fautriere s malady. 
After suffering a long time, she died in 1655, and little 
Margaret, then only eight years old, returned to her 
family. Hardly had she entered Lhautecour than to 
this first misfortune was added a second, though of a far 
more serious nature. Her father died at the close of the 
same year. 2 Still young, scarcely forty-one years old, 
bearing the unblemished reputation of an honest man 
and a good Christian, he left a young widow and five 
little children, the youngest not yet six years old, a very 
moderate fortune, and embarrassed affairs. It appears 
that this excellent man knew neither how to pay his 

1 Memoire, p. 290. 

2 Memoire of Chrysostom Alacoque: " the said M. Alacoque having 
died in 1655," etc. 



Birth, Childhood, and Yo^lth. 45 

debts nor to collect his dues. 1 His debts were few, his 
creditors many. The poor widow accepted courageously 
the care of her five children, and resolved to retrieve 
her embarrassed fortune. But as this necessitated fre 
quent journeys, which allowed her no leisure to devote 
herself to her children s education, she placed the two 
eldest sons for a time at Cluny; the other two with 
their uncle, M. Antoine Alacoque, cure of Verosvres; 
and our holy child was sent to the Poor Clares of 
Charolles. 

The silence of this sacred cloister, the austerity and 
continual prayer of the religious, their nocturnal devo 
tions, their modesty and recollection, made an extraor 
dinary impression upon Margaret. She became con 
scious that this was the kind of life God desired of her. 
" I thought," she said, " were I a religious, I should be 
come holy like those around me, I conceived so great 
a longing for the life that I breathed but for it. I did 
not find the convent in which I was, retired enough for 
my taste; but not knowing any other, I thought I must 
remain there." 2 Let us note this new feature. This 
convent of Poor Clares, enclosed by austere grates, 
shrouded in silence and fervor, was not sufficiently re 
tired to satisfy the craving after a hidden life already 
experienced by this young child. From the cradle to 
the tomb, that desire of hers was to go on increasing. 

Hardly had she entered with the Poor Clares, when 
they prepared her to make her first Communion. She 
was only nine years old; but her angelic dispositions 
supplied the defect of age. The results were extraor 
dinary. Margaret was gay, lively, naturally given to 
play and amusement; but from this day, she no longer 
found in them the same attraction. "This first Com- 

1 We judge of this from the fact of the physician s bill sent the widow 
at this time. It comprised the accounts of the entire family for ter 
years. These accounts are at the Visitation convent of Paray. 

8 Memoire, p. 291. 



46 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

munion," she said, "infused so much bitterness into all 
the little pleasures and amusements of my age that I 
could find no relish in them, though I still sought them 
eagerly. When I desired to share my companions games, 
I always felt something restraining me, something that 
called me apart; and I had no peace until I obeyed. 
The same impulse made me begin to pray, almost always, 
provided I was not seen, on my bare knees, or making 
genuflections. To be observed was for me inconceivable 
torment." 

A very serious illness at this time endangered the 
child s life, and obliged her family to withdraw her 
from the Poor Clares. She returned to Lhautecour, 
where she was surrounded with the tenderest care by 
her mother and brothers, who loved her dearly. They 
did everything to promote her cure, but in vain. " They 
could," said she, " find no cure for my malady till they 
gave me to the Blessed Virgin. They promised her, if 
I were cured, I should some day be one of her daugh 
ters. I had no sooner made the vow than I was cured. 
I ever after experienced the Blessed Virgin s protection 
in a manner altogether marked, as of one belonging en 
tirely to her." This was the first public sign of the 
special love of God for the holy child. She was deeply 
moved by it, and resolved more firmly than ever to be 
long to Him without reserve. 

During the solitary hours of this long illness, Mar 
garet s thoughts were centred in God. She says: " I felt 
strongly attracted to prayer. But this attraction gave 
me much suffering, as I was unable to satisfy it. I knew 
not how to make prayer, and I had no one to teach me. 
I knew nothing more of it than the name, but that name 
itself ravished my heart." 

Margaret then turned to God, and with tears conjured 
Him to teach her the secret. He did it with admirable 
goodness. "The Sovereign Master taught me how He 
wished me to pray, and that lesson has served me all 



&irtk> Childhood, and Youth. 47 

my life. He made me prostrate humbly before Him to 
ask pardon for everything by which I had offended 
Him. After having adored Him, I offered Him my 
prayer without knowing how I was going to make it. 
Then He presented Himself to me in the mystery in 
which He wished me to consider Him. He applied my 
mind to it so forcibly, ingulfing my soul and all my 
powers in Himself, that I felt no distraction. My heart 
was consumed with the desire of loving Him, and that 
gave me an insatiable hunger after holy Communion 
and sufferings." 

God was about to hear both these desires. When 
Margaret was brought back ill to Lhautecour, she did 
not notice the great change that had come over it. The 
efforts of her mother to retrieve the fortune of the 
family had not been successful. A new lease of the 
land had been made in the name of the minors. It was 
concluded not with their mother, but with Toussaint 
Delaroche, their uncle, who had summarily enough taken 
the management of affairs. His wife was installed abso 
lute mistress at Lhautecour, where were already her 
grandmother, Mme. Alacoque, ne e Delaroche, and her 
daughter Catharine, who was not married. Little by 
little, the poor widow had been pushed aside and de 
prived of all influence. Whether on account of her 
incapacity for business, or that the family held her re 
sponsible for their straitened circumstances, she received 
from them only sharp words and ill-humor. Margaret 
tells this in ambiguous words, without mentioning names. 
She takes extreme precaution not to reveal the guilty; 
but from the restrained emotion with which, twenty years 
after, she spoke in less reserved language, we can under 
stand what a soul naturally so sensitive and impetuous 
as hers must have had to suffer. 

" God permitted my mother," she says, " to be deprived 
of authority in her own house, and to be forced to yield it 
1 Memoire, p. 291. 



48 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Atacoque. 

to others. Those in charge so lorded it over her that 
both she and I were soon reduced to a state of captivity. 
It is not my intention in what I am going to say to 
blame those persons. I do not wish to think that they 
did wrong in making me suffer. Far from me such a 
thought, my God ! I regard them rather as instruments 
of whom God made use to accomplish His holy will. 
We had no freedom in our own house, and we dared do 
nothing without permission. It was a continual war. 
Everything was under lock and key, so that I could not 
even find my apparel when I wished to go to holy Mass. 
I was even obliged to borrow clothes. I felt this slavery 
keenly, I must acknowledge." The pain of such a posi 
tion was still more increased by odious suspicions. " It 
was at this time," says she, " that with all my strength 
I sought my consolation in the Most Blessed Sacrament 
of the Altar. But being in a country-house far from 
church, I could not go there without the consent of 
these same persons; and it so happened that the per 
mission granted by one was often withheld by the other. 
When my tears showed the pain I felt, they accused me 
of having made an appointment with some one, saying 
that I concealed it under the pretext of going to Mass 
or Benediction. This was most unjust, for I would have 
consented rather to see myself cut into a thousand 
pieces than to entertain such thoughts." 

" Not knowing where to seek refuge," she adds, I 
hid myself in a retired corner of the garden, in the 
stable, or in some other out-of-the-way place where I 
could, unobserved, kneel and pour out my heart in tears 
before God. This I always did through my good Mother, 
the most Blessed Virgin, in whom I had placed all my 
confidence. I remained there entire days without eat 
ing or drinking. Sometimes the poor villagers, pitying 
my condition, gave me in the evening a little fruit or 
milk. When I ventured to return to the house, it was 
1 Memorie, p. 292. 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 49 

with such fear and trembling as, it seems to me, a poor 
criminal endures when about to receive sentence of con 
demnation." ] 

She adds: "I should have esteemed myself much 
more happy begging from door to door the bread which 
frequently I dare not take from the table, than living in 
this way. The moment I entered the house, the bat 
teries were opened more fiercely than ever. I was re 
proached with neglecting the house and the children of 
those dear benefactors of my soul. 2 I was not allowed 
to say one word. The night I passed as I had done the 
day, pouring out tears at the foot of my crucifix." 

But this was not yet Margaret s greatest trial. She 
loved her mother tenderly ; consequently, she suffered 
fearfully at seeing her thus humbled in her own house. 
" The rudest cross I had to bear was my inability to alle 
viate my mother s trials. They were a thousand times 
harder for me than my own. I dared not even console 
her by a word, fearing to offend God by taking pleasure 
in talking over our troubles. But it was in my beloved 
mother s" sickness that my affliction became extreme. 
She suffered much from being left to my care and little 
services. Necessary nourishment was withheld from her 
by our jailers, and I was forced to beg from the villagers 
eggs and other things suitable for the sick. This was a 
special torment to me, for I was naturally timid, and I 
was frequently received very rudely." 3 

It is useless to add that God never abandons His 

1 Memoire, p. 293. 

2 No, not the children of the married domestics, as some historians 
ignorant of the process of her canonization have imagined. In that 
process we see that those dear benefactors of her soul " were the mem- 
be-rs of her own family." (Proces, p. 54.) We have named them 
~bove. The children here in question were the four little ones of 
Toussaint Delaroche John, Margaret (to whom our saint was god 
mother), Antony, and Jane Gabrielle. The eldest was eight years old, 
and the youngest three. (See note C.) 

8 Memoire, p. 293. 



5O Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

faithful servants in such sorrows. On one particular 
occasion, when her mother was ill of erysipelas in its 
worst form, a young village physician was called in. 
He bled her, but said on leaving that nothing short of a 
miracle could save her life. The holy child, not know 
ing what e.lse to do, ran to the church. It was the feast 
of the Circumcision. Margaret implored God with tears 
to be Himself her poor mother s physician. We do not 
know exactly how the thing happened, for the saint s 
humble recital is full of reserve. But when she returned 
home, she found that the swelling of her mother s cheek 
had disappeared ; and, contrary to all human appear 
ances, the wound healed in a few days. 1 

Behold in what hard trials Margaret s childhood 
passed ! She was now scarcely fifteen. Happily, suf 
fering, humiliations, and contempt are no obstacles to 
sanctity; they are, on the contrary, when accepted by 
the soul, the most active and powerful agents thereto. 
Persecuted, humbled, almost driven from her home, the 
pious child sought refuge in God. She prayed inces 
santly, and began at this tender age to practise most 
austere penances. Her brother Chrysostom asserts that 
from her earliest childhood she was not satisfied with 
long prayer in church. The deponent often found her 
praying on her knees 2 in retired corners of the house. 
She practised, he affirmed, almost from infancy, many 
austerities and macerations, as fasting, iron chains, dis 
ciplines, and cinctures. These last often penetrated the 
flesh. She slept on a plank, and passed the night in 
prayer. The servants of M. Alacoque declared that she 
sometimes forgot to go to bed, and that they often 
found her on her knees. 

To sustain her in such trials, the Lord began to ap 
pear to her. She was not astonished, for she believed 
that others were favored in the same way. It was or- 

1 M6moire, p. 295. 

8 Proc&s of 1715, Deposition of Chrysostom. 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 51 

dinarily " under the form of the Crucified, or of the Ecce 
Homo, or as carrying His cross." This sight roused her 
soul to love so great, that the hardships she endured, 
the slavery, contempt, beggary, and even the blows she 
received, appeared to her light and sweet. " Some 
times," said she, "when they were about to strike me, I 
was distressed that their raised hands were stayed, and 
that they did not exercise upon me all their strength. 
I felt constantly urged to render all sorts of good ser 
vices to these persons, as to the true friends of my soul. 
I had no greater pleasure than to do and say all the 
good I could of them." 

Let no one imagine that Margaret was one of those 
cold, apathetic natures that feel nothing. She was, on 
the contrary, extremely tender and sensitive. She felt 
keenly the slightest want of attention, and expanded 
like a delicate flower under the least proof of affection. 
Her innate pride rendered such a life insupportable. 
She was gay, sprightly, intelligent, and fond of pleasure 
to a degree that might at any moment have exposed her 
to serious danger in the \vorld. But she repeats on 
every page of her Memoire that it is not she that is act 
ing thus, it is her Sovereign Lord, who was making 
Himself master of her soul, and directing her in all 
things. 

It was, above all, to the Blessed Sacrament that she 
turned for consolation and strength. As soon as a free 
moment was hers, she ran, or rather she flew, to the 
church ; and once inside the door, she could no longer 
restrain her footsteps. Love impelled her to the foot 
of the altar, and she could never get near enough to 
the tabernacle. " I was wholly unable to recite vocal 
prayers before the Blessed Sacrament," said she, " and 
once in its presence I became so absorbed that I knew 
no weariness. I could have passed days and nights 
before it without eating or drinking. I do not know 
1 Memoire, p. 295. 



52 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

exactly how I employed those moments. I only know 
that, like a burning taper, I was consumed in its pres 
ence, rendering Jesus love for love. I could not remain 
in the lower part of the church, and, despite the con 
fusion it might cause me, I had to draw as near as I 
could to the altar on which reposed the Blessed Sacra 
ment. And yet I did not think myself happy even 
there. I envied those -that could communicate fre 
quently, and that were free to remain long in the Sacra 
mental Presence. I tried to gain the friendship of such 
persons, that I might enjoy the privilege of going with 
them to spend some moments with Jesus Christ in this 
mystery." * 

Margaret did not always succeed in the accomplish 
ment of the desire just expressed. As we have seen, 
"the consent of three persons was necessary, and what 
one granted the others refused." On such occasions 
the pious child ran to hide herself in some corner of the 
garden, to pray and weep before God. There was one 
spot specially dear to her. Some steps west of the 
house a steep declivity, clothed with a little thicket, led 
down to a very deep vale. It may have been in far-off 
times, when our globe was a mere molten mass, a pas 
sage of burning lava, or a torrent of water ; for its 
remains might be a monument of either. It consisted 
of an immense block of granite of extraordinary dimen 
sions, left there by the flow, unable to drag it farther. 
Our holy child loved this solitary spot, which was just 
on the boundary of her own garden, and there she often 
took refuge. Protected behind, and, as it were, veiled 
by the thicket at the side of the house, it had directly 
in view the apsis containing the main altar of the 
church, which was less than half a mile distant. From 
this block of granite, however, the ground rises so 
rapidly to the church that one might think the distance 
less ; it seems to be only a few steps across the valley. 
1 M6moire, p. 297. 



Birth, Childhood, and Youth. 53 

At night the little lamp burning before the tabernacle 
could be seen from the windows of the Alacoque man 
sion. It was there that her Lord and Master dwelt, 
despoiled of glory, abandoned by creatures, a thousand 
times more neglected and humiliated than she could 
ever be. Such thoughts made her heart melt into love. 
Tears welled up and, leaning on the granite block, her 
eyes and heart riveted on the tabernacle, Margaret was 
lost for hours in contemplation. 




54 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER III. 

MARGARET S VOCATION SHE ENTERS THE VISITATION 
OF PARAY. 

1662-1671. 

" In charitate perpetua dilexi te." 

"I have loved thee with an everlasting \ove."Jeremtas xxxi. 3. 

" Posuit signum in faciem meam, ut nullum praeter eum amatorem 
admittam." 

" He has placed His seal upon my forehead, that I may admit no 
lover but Himself." Rom. Brev. Ant. of St. Agnes. 

grew in the solitude of Lhautecour, beauti 
ful and pure, hidden from all eyes, even from 
those of her kinsmen, the holy child whom God 
had chosen for things so great. She herself was more 
ignorant than others of what was being done in her. 
She breathed only for God. Her only ambition was 
" to be consumed in His presence like a burning taper, 
and so return Him love for love." 

From such a life to the cloister there is but one step ; 
and we might expect to see Margaret take it without 
one regret for a world of which she knew naught but its 
trials, and from which she could part without even a 
sigh. But had such been the case, her vocation would 
have been void of sacrifice, would have had neither in 
the eyes of God nor of man its true value. 

It so happened that, as Margaret entered her seven 
teenth year, the circumstances of her surroundings 
entirely changed. Her eldest brothers, having arrived 
at the age of manhood, took charge of the business 
and restored their mother to the position and influence 
of which she had been deprived. On the other hand, 
Toussaint Delaroche, who had probably died, for we 
no longer find mention of him, had in his ten years 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 55 

rather arbitrary, though intelligent, administration re 
trieved the compromised affairs of the family. Free 
dom came with this change of fortune ; and that 
gayety generally found where six or seven children are 
just stepping from childhood into youth once more 
shed its genial influence over the Alacoque home. In 
the country the young marry at an early age, especially 
the members of large families. Margaret was only 
seventeen, and already several good offers had been 
made her. Her eldest brother, now two-and-twenty 
and the head of the family, needed a companion. "All 
this," says our saint, "brought to our home much com 
pany whom it was necessary for me to meet." Inter 
course with society commenced, and more brilliantly, 
perhaps, than her first historians suspect. When we 
read the baptismal register of Margaret s brothers and 
sisters, we see that almost all had for sponsors the most 
noble lords and ladies of the neighboring castles. 
Margaret, we remember, had been held over the font by 
Mme. de Fautrieres ; and although she was dead, we 
cannot believe that the holy child ceased all communi 
cation with the castle of Corcheval. Her brother 
Claude Philibert had for godmother Lady Couronne 
d Apchon, widow of John le Roux, Lord of Terreau. 
One of her sisters was carried to holy baptism by Lady 
Gilberte Areloup, Baronne Despres. It is the same with 
all the others, whose god-parents belonged to the best 
families of Charolais. Mme. Alacoque, desirous of 
settling her children in life, began to bring them out a 
little and to receive visitors at her own house. Mar- 

1 Couronne d Apchon, widow of John le Roux, married for second 
husband John Areloup, a gentleman squire of the king s chamber. 
Baron of Saint- Peruse. By this marriage he became Lord of Terreau, 
She had an only daughter, Gilberte Areloup Lady of Terreau. 
who was married in 1640 to M. Claude de Thibaut de Noblet, 
Chevalier, Baron Depres, etc. Their son and heir, Pierre de Thibaut 
de Noblet, was by the king created Marquis Despres, 



56 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

garet saw at once that she was much noticed and 
sought after. And what is singular and almost inex 
plicable is that this young girl who had been so strong 
in the midst of adversity, whom neither contempt nor 
humiliations could daunt, scarcely beheld the world 
smiling upon her, when she began to adorn herself to 
please it. She delighted in pleasure-parties, she 
shortened her prayers, she remained from confession, 
and her soul gradually sank from the height to which 
it had been elevated in early childhood. " I began to 
see the world and to dress to please it, and I tried to 
amuse myself as much as I could." : 

Happily, God watched over this soul upon which He 
had designs so great. " But Thou, my God," she con 
tinues, " hadst other designs than those that I formed 
in my heart. Thou didst make known to me that it 
was hard to kick against the powerful goad of Thy love. 
My malice and infidelity made me use every effort and 
all my strength to resist its attraction and extinguish 
within me its movements. But in vain ! In the midst 
of company and amusements, divine love pierced me 
with darts so inflamed that they seemed entirely to 
consume my heart. The pain stunned me, and yet it 
did not suffice to detach a heart so ungrateful as mine. 
I felt as if bound with cords, and so forcibly drawn 
that I was, at last, forced to follow Him who was call 
ing me. He led me aside and severely reproved me. 
Alas! He seemed jealous of this miserable heart." 

Touched by such love, Margaret prostrated on the 
ground, begged pardon, and took a long and severe 
discipline. "In spite of all this," she adds, " I failed 
not to plunge again into vanity, and again I offered the 
same resistance." 

One day during the carnival she masked to take 
part with several of her friends in a ball to which she 
had been invited. What tears she shed to expiate 
1 Memoire, p. 299. 2 Ibid. 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 57 

"her great sin," as she called it! What fasts and 
macerations! And still, wonderful to say, Margaret had 
not yet conquered herself. Still bleeding from her 
self-imposed discipline, she began again to smile upon 
the world. 

It was on her return from this ball that the Lord 
awaited her. "That evening," she says, "as I was 
taking off Satan s accursed livery, for thus I term my 
vain adornments, my Sovereign Master presented Him 
self before me all disfigured as He was during His 
flagellation. He reproached me, saying that it was my 
vanity which had reduced Him to such a state ; that I 
was losing infinitely precious time of which He would 
demand of me a rigorous account at the hour of death ; 
and that I had betrayed and persecuted Him after He 
had given me so many proofs of His love. This made 
so strong an impression upon me and wounded my 
heart so painfully that I wept bitter tears." 

Then, taking God s part against herself, jealous of 
seeing such love despised by so wretched a creature, 
feeling that there was no torment that she did not 
deserve and that she could not endure, Margaret un 
covered her shoulders and disciplined them to blood. 
" To avenge in some manner on myself the injury I had 
done Him, I bound this miserable, criminal body with 
knotted cords, which I drew so tightly that I could 
hardly breathe or eat. I kept them on so long that 
they ate into my flesh. It was only by force and at the 
cost of cruel suffering that I could get them off again. 
It was the same with the little chains that I clasped 
around my arms. I could not remove them without 
tearing off with them pieces of flesh. I slept on planks, 
or strewed my bed with sharp sticks." But Margaret 
never spoke of these things. She so carefully hid her 
macerations that no one suspected them. Although in 
the flower of her age and the freshness of youth, they 
1 Memoire, p. 300. 



58 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

saw her, without apparent cause, " suddenly grow pale 
and thin." 1 

Let us remark that, on hearing the saints speaking 
thus bitterly of trifling faults, which they expiated so 
cruelly, we are sometimes tempted to think them more 
guilty than they are. But in our saint s case there was 
nothing in her first experience of the world and its 
pleasures to tarnish the immaculate purity of her 
heart. At twenty Margaret was innocent as a child. 
She abhorred the idea of marriage, and the thought 
of the slightest sin against holy purity forced tears 
from her eyes. Several witnesses in the process of 
her canonization solemnly affirmed that she ever pre 
served baptismal innocence. In default of such wit 
nesses, it would suffice to open her Memoire. One 
cannot read it without seeing at once the embodiment 
of Bossuet s beautiful illustration of the pure of heart. 
Let us, borrowing from him, say that, from the cradle 
to the grave, Margaret s heart resembled those beautiful 
streams one comes upon among the mountains of her 
native Burgundy. Hidden in deep caverns, over 
shadowed by the vast horizon, they offer to the traveller 
limpid waters whose crystalline purity is ruffled by no 
breath. 

Protected by her innocence, Margaret would have 
triumphed sooner over the seductions of the world, had 
not the thought of her mother, whom she so tenderly 
loved and whom by her marriage she could extricate 
from many difficulties, shaken her purpose. " My 
relations," said she, " and especially my dear mother, 
urged me incessantly to marry. She wept as she told 
me that she saw no hope of release from her misery 
except in me; that she would find her consolation in 
being with me, as soon as I should be settled in the 
world. On the other hand, God s voice pursued me so 
Vehemently that I had no peace. My vow was ever 
1 Memoire, p. 301. 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 59 

before my eyes with the thought that, if I violated it, I 
should be punished with frightful torments." 

Truly, the battle was begun; and as the contest was 
between the two greatest and most powerful loves on 
earth, the love of God and the love of a mother, it was to 
be terrible. " O my God!" cried out Margaret, " Thou 
alone wast witness of the length of the fearful combat 
that I suffered interiorly. I should have yielded with 
out the extraordinary assistance of Thy mercy." 

She continues: "The devil, taking advantage of my 
love for my mother, incessantly represented to me the 
tears she shed; told me that if I became a religious I 
should cause her to die of grief; and that I should have 
to answer for it to God, since she was entirely depend 
ent on my care. This thought was insupportable, for 
our mutual love was so tender that we could not live 
apart. At the same time, the desire to be a religious 
and to live a life of perfect purity pursued me without 
intermission. All this made me suffer a true martyr 
dom. I had no rest, I was constantly in tears; and 
having no one to whom I could disclose my grief, I 
knew not how to act. At last, my love for my mother 
began to gain the ascendency." 1 

Ah, how touching is this last word! The spectacle is 
the same as that which we admire a thousand times in 
the history of St. Chantal. It is ever in souls the most 
noble, the purest, that lies the source of the deepest 
tenderness; and never do the higher, the legitimate 
affections more freely expand, produce more beautiful 
flowers, more delicious fruits, than when forced in the 
hot-house of a heart warmed by the love of God. 

But even Margaret s heart, so long turned to God, 
filial tenderness was about to mislead. She began to 
examine the terms of her vow. She had made it when 
only a very little child, wholly unconscious of what she 
was doing: was she, then, bound by it? Could she not 
1 M6moire, p. 301. 



60 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary A la cogue. 

readily obtain a dispensation ? She would ask for it. 
Then she examined the religious state. It was too high 
for her; she could never reach its perfection. By em 
bracing it, she would lose the liberty of performing 
penances and charities. By such reasoning she was 
strongly tempted to renounce it altogether. 

Three or four years, from 1663 to 1667, passed in these 
terrible alternations between the world and God. At 
the end of this period, as Margaret was entering her 
twentieth year, she felt the desire of being a religious 
rekindle within her, " My desire became so ardent," 
she said, " that I resolved to execute it at any cost." 
She had constantly before her the beauty of the virtues, 
particularly of humility, voluntary poverty, and chas 
tity. She read the lives of the saints with delight ; but 
she avoided those of the greatest servants of God, whose 
heroism she felt unable to imitate. Opening the book, 
she would say : " Let me look for a saint easy to imitate, 
that I may do as she did." But hardly had she begun 
to read before her tears flowed abundantly, on seeing 
that the saint had not offended God as she herself had 
done, or that she had spent long years in penance. 1 

Convinced that she could never love God as He de 
serves to be loved, Margaret resolved to devote herself 
to the service of the poor. She so compassionated their 
miseries that, had it been in her power, she would have 
retained nothing for herself. " When I had any money," 
said she, " I gave it to some poor little ones, to induce 
them to come and learn from me their prayers and 
catechism ; and they flocked to me in such crowds that 
in winter I knew not where to put them." For this 
purpose, she made use of a large room still existing and 
which formed part of the second building of her home. 
It was reached by an exterior stairway. It is in the 
middle of this chamber that Margaret s little cell is 
found. 

1 Memoire, p. 301. 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 61 

Sometimes when her brother saw the crowd of poor 
children crossing the courtyard, he would say to his 
sister pleasantly, " Sister dear, are you going to be a 
school-mistress ?" " Ah, brother!" she would reply, " who 
will instruct these poor little ones if I do not?" Or 
again, her old aunt Catharine grumbled, and unfeel 
ingly chased the children away. " They thought I 
would give to the poor all I could lay hands on; but that 
I would not dare to do, for fear of committing theft. I 
was obliged to coax and pet my mother, to obtain from 
her leave to give what I had. As she loved me dearly 
she readily granted the permission." ; 

Margaret was not satisfied with loving and instructing 
the poor little ones; she went to visit their families, 
especially when any of the members were ill. Delicate 
and sensitive, with a horror of everything unsightly, 
trembling in presence of a wound, never can we fully 
appreciate her efforts to overcome herself, or know what 
heroic acts she performed in this ministry. She spoke 
few words on the subject, but those few reveal prodigies 
of courage; and even under the reserve of a recital im 
posed by obedience, we discover miraculous cures. "I 
had extreme repugnance to look at wounds. I had to 
begin by dressing and even kissing them, in order to 
overcome myself. I was very ignorant as to how I 
should proceed in this duty; but my Divine Master so 
well supplied for my want of knowledge that, although 
the wounds might be very serious, they healed in a 
short time. I had, consequently, more confidence in His 
goodness than in my own remedies." : 

In the midst of such occupations, her lively and ar 
dent nature still inclined to pleasure. "I was naturally 
given to the love of pleasure and amusement ; but I 
could not indulge my inclinations, although I frequently 
sought to do so. But the pitiful sight of the Lord, who 

1 Process of 1715, Chrysostom s Deposition. 
3 Memoire, p. 302. 3 lb., p. 303. 



62 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

presented Himself to me covered with the blood of His 
flagellation, prevented my following out my intentions; 
He reproached me in words that pierced me to the 
heart: Dost thou sigh for pleasure? / never tasted 
any. I gave Myself up to all sorts of bitterness for thy 
love and to gain thy heart, and thou dost still wish to 
dispute it with Me! " At such words, Margaret desisted. 
Although for several days after she was filled with con 
fusion, she gradually resumed her search after vanities. 
" One day," she says, " when I was lost in astonishment 
that so many defects and infidelities were not sufficient 
to repel my Lord, He made me this reply : It is be 
cause I am desirous of making of thee a compound of 
My love and mercy. " 1 

" On another occasion He said to me : I have chosen 
thee for My spouse, and thou didst promise fidelity 
when thou didst make to Me the vow of chastity. It 
was I who urged thee to make it before the world had 
any share in thy heart, for I wished to possess it pure 
and unsullied by any earthly affection. 

Who would not believe that a heart like Margaret s, 
so pure, indeed so angelic, endowed with such gen 
erosity, would not enthusiastically respond to these 
tender and magnificent advances? Nevertheless, even 
at this moment she hesitated ; and never, perhaps, in 
this terrible struggle of four years had she been more 
strongly tempted to yield. It was because serious 
events had changed the prospects of her family. Her 
two eldest brothers died on-e after the other in the prime 
of life. John, the oldest of all the children, he who on 
reaching his majority had taken charge of the business 
and restored to his cherished mother her position and 
influence, was the first taken. He died in 1663, at the 
age of three-and-twenty, leaving the entire charge of 
his affairs to his brother Claude Philibert. Two years 
after, September, 1665, the latter followed him to the 
tomb, at the same fatal age of twenty-three. There re- 
1 Me mo jre, p W4, 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Paray. 63 

mained now only Margaret and her two brothers : Chry- 
sostom, whom we have already met, and James, the 
youngest of all, who was preparing for Holy Orders. 
Becoming thus sole proprietor of the estate of Lhautecour 
and head of the family, Chrysostom thought of marry 
ing. In 1667, at the early age of twenty-two, he married 
Angelique Aumonier, of a good family of the Charolais. 
It is thought that it was for this occasion the pictures 
which decorate the house were painted. It is at least 
s-ingular that, at the period in which we see the tomb 
of the two elder brothers opened and the wedding of 
the third celebrated, we find among these allegorical 
paintings two coffins surmounted by weeping cupids 
with inverted torches, and opposite another represen 
tation of cupids lighting the hymeneal flame. 

Chrysostom married, and Margaret s friends deter 
mined to make a last effort to induce her to do the 
same. Her mother, with the remembrance of past suf 
ferings, did not care to remain in a house ruled by a 
daughter-in-law. With tears she implored Margaret to 
come to some decision, and to take her to live with her. 
At the same time the youngest son, James, who was pre 
paring for Holy Orders, offered his sister half his patri 
mony as a dowry. Finally, Chrysostom, now head of 
the family and Margaret s guardian, declared it time for 
her to take a partner for life. The attack was so violent 
that our saintly young girl was on the point of yielding. 
" I could no longer withstand," she said, " the importu 
nities of my relatives, nor the tears of a mother who 
loved me tenderly, and who represented to me that at 
twenty a girl ought to take a husband. The devil, 
too, did his part. He whispered to me continually: 
Poor miserable creature, of what are you thinking in 
wishing to become a religious? You will make yourself 
a laughing-stock to the world, for you will never per 
severe. What a disgrace to take off the religious habit 
and leave the convent ! Where will you turn to hide 



64 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

yourself after that? I began, then, to share my 
mother s sentiments with regard to remaining in the 
world, though my horror of marriage was so great that 
I could not think of it without bursting into tears." 

Margaret was in this state of hesitancy when God 
came to her assistance. " One day," she relates, "after 
holy Communion, He made me see that He is the most 
beautiful, the richest, most powerful, most perfect, and 
accomplished of all lovers. Being promised to Him, 
whence came it, He asked, that I desired to break with 
Him ? Oh, remember, said He, if thou dost thus con 
temn Me, I shall abandon thee forever; but if thou art 
faithful to Me, I shall never leave thee. I will render 
thee victorious over all thine enemies. I excuse thy 
ignorance, because thou dost not yet know Me. But if 
thou art faithful to Me, I shall teach thee to know Me, 
and shall manifest Myself to thee. These words, in 
which are combined authority, majesty, tenderness, 
and the indignation that springs from love despised, 
pierced Margaret s heart like an arrow. She shed 
abundant tears, and felt new light dawn upon her soul. 
She renewed her vow of chastity, resolved " rather to 
die than violate it." On leaving the church, she an 
nounced her resolution to her family, imploring them 
to dismiss every aspirant for her hand, however advan 
tageous the offer might be. 3 

Margaret s tone as she uttered these words conveyed 
to her mother the conviction that her child meant what 
she said; and so she no longer insisted upon her marry 
ing. " After this my mother shed no more tears in my 
presence; but she wept before all with whom she spoke 
on the subject. Those persons failed not to tell me that 
if I left her I would be the cause of her death; that I 
should have to answer to God; and that I could become 
a religious as well after her death as before it. One 
brother, in particular, who loved me much, did all in 
1 MSmoire, p. 305. 8 Ibid. 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 65 

his power to dissuade me from my design, and offered 
me his patrimony as a dowry. But to all such consider 
ations my heart had become as insensible as a rock." 

Margaret had, however, to remain nearly three years 
longer in the world. Her dowry was not forthcoming, 
the family being yet undecided. They acted slowly and 
sought pretexts for delay. Margaret waited patiently; 
but sure now of herself and of God, she lived in celestial 
peace. 

Thinking the distractions of a pleasant city life would 
change her d.esires, she was sent to Macon, where her 
maternal uncle \vas royal notary. This uncle had a 
daughter who was very pious. She was on the point 
of entering the Ursuline convent of that city, and she 
made every effort to take her cousin with her. The 
uncle sided with his daughter, and was more insistent 
in the affair than was commendable. But to their im 
portunity Margaret returned but one reply in which 
shone the elevation and purely divine disinterestedness 
of her vocation: "If I should enter your convent, it 
would be for love of you. I wish to go to a house 
where I shall have neither relatives nor acquaintances, 
that I may become a religious actuated by no other 
motive than the love of God." She was thus debating 
with her uncle and cousin, and almost ready to yield, 
for she could not explain to herself, and still less to 
others, her apparently groundless repugnance to enter 
ing a Community pious and fervent, and into which 
she would have been so joyously welcomed, when her 
brother Chrysostom arrived unexpectedly to conduct 
her home. Her mother was at the point of death. In 
fact, her good and excellent mother was dying of grief. 
They took advantage of her state, to force upon Mar 
garet the thought of the responsibility she would incur 
by persisting in her project. " They made me under 
stand," she tells us, " that my mother could not live 
without me, and that I should have to answer to God 



66 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

for her death. This was told me even by ecclesiastics. 
It caused me cruel sufferings, for I tenderly loved my 
mother. The devil made use of this ruse to make me 
believe that my mother s death would be the cause of 
my eternal damnation." 

Tortured in heart and conscience, Margaret cast her 
self at the foot of her crucifix and watered it with her 
tears. There she found peace. God came to her assist 
ance. He consoled her mother, enlightened her brother, 
and gave her kinsfolk to understand that souls must 
follow whither God calls. 

The more Margaret thought of the religious life, the 
more enraptured she became with it. It w r as there, she 
thought, that she would learn to pray as she had never 
yet known how; that she would obey and do penance 
to the full extent of her desires. There, too, she would 
communicate frequently; and this thought roused her 
soul to rapturous transports. " My greatest joy was to 
think I should communicate frequently; for the privi 
lege was now granted me but rarely. I should have 
believed myself the happiest creature in the world, had 
I been able frequently to pass the entire night before 
the Blessed Sacrament. On the eve of my Commun 
ions, I felt my soul so abyssed in recollection that I 
could speak but with the greatest effort; I was wholly 
taken up with the sublimity of the action I was about 
to perform. After my Communions, I desired neither 
to eat nor drink, to see anyone, nor to speak, so great 
were the peace and consolation I felt." 2 

Things were still in this state, when there arrived at 
Verosvres, to preach the Jubilee proclaimed by Clement 
X. after his elevation to the Sovereign Pontificate, 1670, 
a religious of the Order of St. Francis. His name the 
old Memoires do not tell. They inform us only that he 
was a man of eminent piety. To this child, who was to 
reveal to the world the pierced Heart of Jesus Christ, 
1 M6moire, p. 307. 2 Ib. p. 308. 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 67 

God sent a disciple of him who on Mt. Alvernus had 
received in his hands and feet and heart the sacred 
stigmata of the wounds of Jesus Christ. " His charity 
was such," says she, "that he stayed at our house over 
night to give us a chance to make our general confes 
sion." 1 Margaret made hers with abundance of tears. 
Her least faults appeared to her crimes. The holy re 
ligious, seeing her purity of soul, put her in the way of 
communicating every day, taught her to make prayer, 
an instruction she hardly needed, and promised her 
some instruments of penance; for, dreading vanity, she 
had not dared to speak to him of the mortification she 
already imposed upon herself. He did more. He went 
at once to find Chrysostom, and roused in him great 
scruples for putting obstacles in the way of such a voca 
tion. Chrysostom loved his sister tenderly, but he 
feared still more to offend God. That same day he had 
a long conversation with Margaret, to find out whether 
or not she was really persevering in her design. Hav 
ing received the energetic reply, " Yes, certainly, I 
would rather die than change my purpose," he at once 
took the necessary steps for her departure from home. % 

Shortly after, in the spring of 1671, Margaret, accom 
panied by her brother, set out for Paray-le-Monial, where 
there was a convent of the Visitation, in which she had 
resolved to conceal herself for life. 

Why the Visitation? She did not know. Never had 
she put her foot into a convent of this Order. She con 
sidered the Poor Clares of Charolles too near to Veros- 
vres. As to the Ursulines of Macon, she was still in 
fluenced by the motives that dictated her answer to her 
cousin: "If I should go into your Community, it would 
be for love of you. I wish to go where I shall have 
neither relations nor acquaintances, that I may become 
a religious through no other motive than the love of 
God." Once before when her brother insisted on her 
1 Memoire, p. 309. 



68 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

entering with the Ursulines, she replied: "No, that 
will never be. I wish to go to the Holy Maries, to a 
distant convent in which I have no acquaintances. I 
wish to be a religious only for God. I wish to leave the 
world entirely, to hide myself in some corner in which 
I can forget and be forever forgotten." 

This is all Margaret knew of the reasons that in 
fluenced her vocation. The rest was God s secret. 

Several Visitation convents were proposed to her, 
Charolles, Macon, Autun, Dijon, and Paray. " As 
soon," said she, " as I heard mention of Paray, my heart 
bounded with joy, and I consented at once." She then 
set out with her brother for the term of her happiness, 
" dear Paray." On crossing the threshold, her soul was 
flooded with celestial sweetness, and a voice interiorly 
whispered: " Here it is that I wish thee to be." A short 
time before, seeing at Macon a picture of St. Francis de 
Sales, it seemed to her that the saint looked at her ten 
derly. It was something of the same kind that she now 
experienced. Turning quickly toward her brother, she 
said: "Be assured I shall never leave this house." Not 
so judged the good people of Paray who saw her enter. 
She was tastefully dressed, joy was beaming on her 
countenance, and she was making lively gesticulations. 
They smiled as they glanced at her, and said: "Look! 
has she the appearance of a religious ?" " And indeed," 
she adds, "I then wore more vain ornaments than I had 
ever before done, and I gave expression to the great 
joy I felt at seeing myself all in all to my Sovereign 
Good." 2 

Margaret returned once more to Verosvres, but only 
to take a last farewell. It was heart-rending. Her 
mother covered her with tears and caresses. Margaret 
at first bore this last assault without even growing pale. 
" Never did I feel my heart so joyous or so firm. I was, 
as it were, insensible to the affection and the sorrow of 
1 Memoire, p. 310. 2 Ib., p. 311. 



Margaret enters the Visitation of Par ay. 69 

which I was the object and the cause. Even my mother s 
tears affected me not, and I shed not one myself on 
leaving her." But as God wished that none of the 
beauties of nature or of grace should be wanting to this 
great sacrifice, Margaret had hardly left her mother, 
when an immense wave of bitterness swept over her 
soul. "It seemed to me," she said, "that my soul was 
being torn from my body." When St. Teresa crossed 
for the last time the threshold of her father s house, she 
felt, to use her own expression, as if her bones were 
being snapped and her life was slipping away from her. 
Again, when St. Chantal tore herself from the embrace 
of her old father and the caresses of her little ones, she 
shed such torrents of tears that the lookers-on were 
astonished and scandalized. Margaret Mary had the 
same divine honor done her. On her way from Veros- 
vres to Paray, she tasted the agony of agonies. 

Why, we ask, did slie choose the Visitation, when so 
many other religious houses \vere open to her? Now 
we know. Margaret Mary went not to the Visitation 
like so many others, because this Institute, founded 
recently by two admirable saints, still exhaled its first 
perfume, a perfume so sweet to breathe in the cradle of 
religious houses. She went there by reason of a higher 
order. God, who has not raised a mountain, dug out a 
valley, directed the course of a river, without knowing 
for what people, for what souls He was laboring, in 
fashioning the Visitation thought ol Margaret Mary. 
He made one for the other. He made the sweetness, 
simplicity, humility, the hidden life of the Visitation 
that Margaret Mary on the day of her entrance might 
expand as in her element: and there for twenty years 
He worked in the soul of our holy child. He made her 
sweet, humble, simple, pure, so that she might one day 
be the loveliest of Visitandine flowers, the sweetest of 
Visitandine fruits. Or rather He made one for the 
other the grand Order for the humble virgin; the 



/o Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

former to be the theatre, the latter the evangelist, the 
apostle of a great miracle, of which neither the one nor 
the other could have the shadow of a doubt. Long be 
fore, in the far-away time, He had sent St. Francis de 
Sales and St. Chantal sublime presentiments of what 
was to take place. He had sown the living germs even 
in the foundation of the Visitation. He had given to 
it for its arms and armorial bearings a heart crowned 
with thorns and surmounted by a cross. These pious 
daughters, whom sixty years before He had formed in 
solitude to be one day the guard of honor of His 
adorable Heart, the people, though without knowing 
why, began to call " The Daughters of the Heart" 

But the humble virgin that was to cause those germs 
to flourish, throw light upon those early presentiments, 
and clothe with meaning that coat-of-arms, suspected 
nothing of her mission. In all these first years of her 
life, though the Divine Voice had already spoken to her, 
there was not one word of her extraordinary vocation; 
not one glimmer of light on her future destiny; not a 
reference to the wants of that Church to which, how 
ever, she was sent as a liberating angel. She had ex 
perienced but one attraction, and that had overruled 
every other. " Hide thyself, fly men, forget creatures. 
Seek a little corner, a solitude, a cloister, in which thou 
mayest forget all and in which, forgotten by all, thou 
mayest live for God alone " such were the words 
spoken by the Divine Voice. 

Behold the dispositions with which Margaret entered 
the Visitation, May 25, 1671. Three months after she 
was clothed with the habit, and eighteen months later 
she prostrated on the choir floor. The nuns covered 
her with a pall, from beneath which she rose up radi 
ant; for between her and man there was raised an im 
passable barrier the tomb was sealed! 



The Convent of Par ay. 7 1 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE CONVENT OF PARAY. 
1671. 

"Surge, illuminate, Jerusalem, quia venit lumen tuum, et gloria 
Domini super te orta est." 

" Arise, be enlightened, O Faray, for thy light is come, and the glory 
of the Lord is risen upon thee. " Isaias Ix. i. 

" When the time had come, the sanctuary doors opened, and the King 
of Love entered the dear convent of Paray, introducing therein His 
well- beloved." AnnJe Sainte, vol. i. p. 746. 

WHAT kind of convent was this toward which 
God directed our saint, and which was to be 
the theatre of such marvels ? What souls was 
she to meet therein ? What vii t aes and what traditions ? 
What the faith and fervor of their religious life ?* 

This was the time in which the Visitation Order, for 
thirty years bereaved of its foundress, the great-souled 
Mother de Chantal, 1641, drew from the recent feasts of 
the canonization of St. Francis de Sales fresh vitality, 
and continued to cover the world with its pious soli 
tudes. Every year saw them opened to souls weary of 
the world and thirsting for divine love. In 1642, Ville- 

1 It is customary at the Visitation for each monastery to send out every 
three years a Circular addressed to the whole Institute. In this Circu 
lar is first related whatever of importance has transpired in the com 
munity, and then is given a sketch of the lives of the Sisters that have 
died during those three years. Hence we see the importance of such 
documents. It is the complete history of a convent, the general his 
tory of the community, and the individual history of each Sister. We 
have, consequently, most carefully examined all the Circulars of Paray 
belonging to the epoch with which we are now occupied. It is from 
these documents we draw this chapter, and shall turn to them for light 
on the obscure questions of many following. See Appendix, notes E 
andF. 



72 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

franche, Verceil in Italy, Montbrison, Agen, Avignon, 
the second of Rouen; in 1643, Salins, Montelimart, Li 
moges; in 1644, Issoudun, Castellane, Vienne, and 
Tulle; in 1645, Saint-Marcellin and Soleure; in 1646, 
La Fleche, Avallon, and Dole; in 1647, Toulouse, Char- 
tres, and Saumur; in 1648, Loudun, Bourbon-Lancy, 
the second of Grenoble ; in 1649, Compiegne and Cler- 
mont ; in 1650, Abbeville and Mons, in Hainaut ; in 
1651, Chaillot, Seissel, Aurillac, and Larochefoucauld ; 
in 1652, the second of Marseilles and the second of Aix ; 
in 1653, Saint-Amour and Langres ; in 1654, Varsovie, 
in Poland ; in 1657, Arone in Italy ; in 1659, Auxerre, 
Alengon, and Brioude ; in 1660, Thiers and the third of 
Paris ; in 1663, Bourg, Saint-Andeol, and Monaco ; in 
1664, Nimes ; in 1666, Saint-Remo ; in 1667, Brussels 
and Munich ; in 1669, Modena and the second of Nice ; 
finally, in 1671, Rome. An inexhaustible current of life 
flowed from the tomb that had just closed over St. 
Chantal. And although her first daughters, they who 
had listened to her energetic words, had gone to rejoin 
her in the sojourn of light after which they had so ar 
dently sighed, they left behind souls whom they them 
selves had formed, inheritors of their virtues, some of 
whom had even caught a glimpse of the venerable coun 
tenance of their holy foundress. 

Among all these pious solitudes, that of Paray, in 
Burgundy, was recommendable for its antiquity and 
fervor. 

The little town of Paray is situated in a charming 
valley, encircled with mountains and crossed by fresh 
running water. The most beautiful vines in the world 
lend it their shade, and it rests at the foot of an old 
basilica built by St. Hugh, in the twelfth century, to 
test the plan to be used for the colossal church of Cluny. 
Born of the breath of the monks, and for that reason 
called Paray-le-Monial; reared under the paternal gov 
ernment of the abbots, of whom, in Burgundy as well as 



The Convent of Par ay. 73 

on the borders of the Rhine, they say, " One lives at 
ease under the crosier," it has preserved even to our 
own day a purity of morals, a nobleness and distinction 
of manners, a loyalty of friendship, and a fervor of pi 
ety, that the misfortunes of the times could not dimin 
ish. Protestantism, it is true, appeared there for a mo 
ment ; but it was, as in other parts of Burgundy, only a 
surprise visit, from which it quickly recovered, and soon 
regained its former fruitfulness. To repair the breaches 
made by its inroads, Paray made haste to build a con 
vent in which the Ursulines might rear her children ; a 
hospital for the care of her sick ; a house for the Jesuit 
Fathers to teach again Jesus Christ ; and, finally, a con 
vent of the Visitation to embalm all around with the 
perfume of piety. Some years later, the little town, 
whose population did not then exceed four or five thou 
sand, witnessed one of those outbursts of faith and 
charity that would have done honor to the largest me 
tropolis ; namely, the rejoicings occasioned by the ar 
rival of the Sisters of the Visitation, September 4, 1626. 
In 1642, their convent was entirely rebuilt in a beauti 
ful plain to the east and, as it were, pillowed on the 
back of the old basilica. It may still be seen in all 
its primitive simplicity, for it has not changed. Four 
large buildings form a square, which incloses a court. 
A cloister extends around them, its vast colonnade open 
ing on a court, in whose centre plays the traditional and 
symbolical fountain. On the walls of irreproachable 
whiteness, and in the arch formed by the rising roof, 
may still be read sentences which St. Francis de Sales 
recommended to be written everywhere, that no eye 
might be raised without meeting a thought for the mind 
and food for the soul. The community-room, chapel, 
sacristy, and refectory open on the cloister, from the four 
corners of which lead stairs to the cells on the story 
above. That of Margaret Mary is still in existence, 
though now converted into a chapel. But we have seen 



74 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoqiie. 

it in its primitive state, narrow, chalk-white, with no 
other furniture than a bed, a table, and a chair; no other 
ornament than a wooden crucifix, and a paper picture 
of the Sacred Heart. All the other cells are like it, 
simple, poor, neat. The laige gardens dotted with 
statues and chapels surround the whole convent with 
verdure, silence, and peace. The sojourn of the saint 
here undoubtedly exhaled around it a perfume that 
otherwise it would not have had ; and has made it, as it 
were, a reliquary filled with precious mementos of the 
Lord. One cannot take a step without inhaling peace, 
fervor, forgetfulness of creatures, and the presence of 
God. 

On Margaret s arrival, in 1671, the convent was gov 
erned by the venerable Mother Hieronyme Hersant, 
just then finishing her sixth year of superiority. She 
belonged to the Visitation of Paris, rue. Saint-Antoine, 
where she had for mistress of novices the great and holy 
Mother Lhuillier. Whilst young, she ha^ been able to 
open her heart and soul to the venerable Mother de 
Chantal, and for twenty years she had for director St. 
Vincent de Paul. 1 In such a school she had become a 
saint, and had, moreover, learned that science of gov 
ernment and that art of directing minds which, joined 
to the most solid virtue, had already secured to Paray 
five years of fervor and progress in the spiritual life. 
True, she was at the time, having almost finished her 
six years of superiority, 1666-1672, about to leave the 
Sisters of Paray and return to Paris. But from her 
hands the government was to pass into those of Mother 
de Saumaise, a soul neither less tender nor less strong, 
who was to come from Dijon. After having governed 
that convent for six years, 1672-1678, she was to give 
place to Mother Greyfie from Annecy, 1678-1684. In 
this Visitation of Paray, where we are to see virtue so 
sublime, vocations so extraordinary, love of Rule so 
1 Annee Sainte, vol. i. p. 745. 



The Convent of Par ay. 75 

great, courage so masculine, humility overruled the 
other virtues to such a degree that it would not allow 
the religious to feel that they were able to govern them 
selves. Their fervor impelled them to seek at Annecy, 
Paris, and Dijon, Superiors the most capable of keep 
ing them united and of advancing them in the true 
spirit of the Visitation. Rising higher, let us say, God, 
who was bringing to this cloister so rare a marvel, and 
through her perfecting the Visitation, completing the 
work of St. Francis de Sales and St. Chantal, wished to 
call there to direct Margaret Mary the most eminent 
Superioresses from the three convents in which were 
still existing the oldest traditions and remembrances of 
the holy founders. 

The mistress of novices into whose hands Margaret 
was to be placed on her arrival was a venerable relig 
ious who had passed four-and-forty years of conventual 
life, and whose vocation dated back even to the foun 
dation of the Visitation of Paray. Her father, M. de 
Thouvant, was one of the two founders of the convent, 
and she was the first of the young girls of Paray to take 
the veil. Contemporary with the eight religious whom 
Mother de Blonay had sent from Lyons to make the 
foundation, and " who were so extraordinarily favored 
by God; whose obedience was proof against all diffi 
culties; whose gift of prayer was sublime; and, finally, 
whose perfume of virtue was so powerful that the people 
clipped their clothing to obtain some shreds as relics," 
Sister de Thouvant had not yet finished her novitiate 
when St. de Chantal arrived at the convent. The saint 
looked at the novice, who was only sixteen years old, 
and, knowing by prophetic light what she would one 
day be, laid her hand on her head with a blessing. She 
earnestly recommended that they would take great care 
of her and moderate her fervor, " and, in particular, 

1 Unedited Foundations of the Convent of Paray (MSS. in 410, 
belonging to the Visitation of Paray), p. 308. 

MONTREAL FREE Li[ 



146 



ETK 



76 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

allow her to make only half an hour s prayer until she 
was eighteen, for fear too great application might 
weaken her health; adding that she foresaw that her 
virtues and good judgment would render her eminently 
serviceable to the Community." 

The saint s prophecy was fully realized. After hav 
ing governed the convent of Paray twelve years as Su 
perioress, 1645-1651 and 1657-1663; after having, as 
mistress of novices, formed the greater part of the Com 
munity; endowed with the gift of sublime prayer, tender 
devotion to the Lord, and a deep knowledge of souls, 
she was going to finish her successful career by forming 
Margaret Mary to the religious life. 

Under the administration of the venerable Mother 
Hieronyme Hersant, and the enlightened direction of 
the pious Sister de Thouvant, the convent of Paray re 
cruited rapidly. A crowd of young girls, overcoming 
the most painful opposition, were seen hastening to bury 
themselves in the cloister, at the cost of the greatest 
sacrifices. They belonged to the best families of Bur 
gundy: Catherine-Antoinette de Levis-Chateaumorand 
for example, who had been detained in the world by the 
tenderness of her mother. After the death of the latter, 
she scattered so generously the treasures of her large 
fortune on her native province, that when the people 
learned her design of entering religion there was a 
general outcry. It was resolved to oppose her depart 
ure, and even to arrest her en route ;* Marie-Hyacinthe 
Courtin, as " remarkable for beauty as for virtue, and 
who was followed by her suitors even into our par 
lors;" 5 Marie-Therese Basset, belonging to one of the 

1 Unedited Foundations of Paray, p. 310. 

2 Abridgment of the life and virtues of our dear Sister de L6vis- 
C bateau mo rand (without date). 

3 Circular of Paray, March 23, 1725. Abridgment of the virtues of 
twelve of our dear Sisters who died in the convent of Paray from Sep 
tember 9, 1719. 



The Convent of Par ay. 77 

richest families of Roanne, who saw two aspirants to 
her hand decide their claim by a duel, in which the loved 
one was slain by his jealous rival. Wounded to the 
heart by this blow, she sought forgetfulness and con 
solation in the love of Him who cannot be taken away; 
Madeleine de Vichy-Chamron, of the two illustrious 
houses of Chamron and d Amanze, who entered the 
Visitation only after having refused the abbatial crosier 
offered her by Mgr. de Villars, Archbishop of Vienne; 2 
Sefaphique de la Martiniere, who, forced to remain in 
the world by the devotedness of her parents, fell so ill 
that she soon resembled a skeleton. Allowed at last to 
fulfil her desire, "the ardor of her fever yielded to that 
of divine love, which conducted her to the celestial 
Spouse." 3 We are about to see group around Margaret 
Mary so many who, had they deigned to give it their 
heart, might have hoped everything from the world; in 
fine, the ladies Damas, Coligny, d Amanze, Varenne de 
Gletin, d Athose, des Escures, who might at least, since 
they desired to be religious, have borne the crosier of 
an abbess, or worn the pectoral cross of a canoness, 
but who relinquished all, attracted by the humility, 
poverty, and fervor of the humble retreat that St. 
Francis de Sales and St. Chantal had just opened " to 
the great of heart and the weak of health." There were 
seen even high-born ladies who thought it not sufficient 
if, in becoming religious, they did not descend to the 
rank of domestic Sisters : Frances-Angelique de la 
Mettrie, for example, or Claude-Frangoise Chappui, 
granddaughter of M. de Marselison, of a very rich 
family of Charolais. "All the importunity of her rela- 

1 Circular of December 17, 1717. Abridgment of the virtues of our 
most honored Sister Marie-Therese Basset. 

- Circular of February 20, 1738. Abridgment of the life and vir 
tues of our very honored Sister Madeleine- Victoire de Vichy de 
Chamron. 

3 Circular ot March 23, 1725. Abridgment of the twelve, etc. 



78 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

tives could not dissuade the latter from taking at Paray 
the white veil of the domestic Sisters, nor constrain her 
at the close of her life to become a choir Sister. She de 
clared that her wish was to die in the white veil." 1 

Just because these young girls belonged to great 
families, and possessed a great heart, the trials of the 
novitiate were excessively severe. Fifty years later 
their remembrance made them tremble. " As they were 
not sparing of trials then," says the Sister who relates 
the entrance into religion of Rosalie Verchere, " she 
displayed all the generosity of her soul." " Her great 
piety caused her to be joyfully received to the novitiate," 
is written of Frangoise Marguerite d Athose. " She en 
dured the trials, which at that time were very great, 
with a fervor that merited for her the reception of our 
holy habit." " Her intrepid courage," it is said of 
Marie-Catherine du Chailloux, " consumed, so to say, 
the rigor of those early days, and she plunged with all the 
ardor of holy love into the ocean of severe trials then in 
force." ; " One can say of Catherine Heuillard that she 
carried to the grave the fervor of her novitiate, having 
never had any other reproaches addressed her than 
that she did too much and labored above her strength." * 
Like words one meets on every page of the manuscripts 
that record the foundation of the Visitation at Paray. 

How could this character of austerity, of holy and 
generous abandonment to the rigor of holy love, fail the 
novitiate, since the professed Sisters, one and all, were 
possessed of it ? We have already seen something of it; 
but it would be necessary to relate the life of each 
member, in particular, to give a true picture of this fer 
vent and generous Community. Marie-Suzanne Pie- 
denuz was a prodigy of austerity. " Wholly penetrated 

1 Circular of April 18, 1713. 
8 Circular of March 23, 1725. 
8 Circular of October i, 1743. 
4 Circular of December 17, 1717. 



The Convent of Par ay. 79 

with the majesty and sanctity of God, she would have 
wished to abyss herself in His presence even to the 
centre of the earth. She appeared before Him as a 
criminal crushed under the weight of His justice. Her 
bloody disciplines diminished nothing of the ardor of 
her love. Loving her Divine Saviour with all the 
powers of her soul, yet feeling that she could not love 
Him as much as she desired, she looked upon herself as 
a reprobate, and this painful state lasted till her death." 
Catherine-Augustine Marest had yet a stronger attrac 
tion for penance, " This admirable daughter, although 
not to be imitated in her mortifications, drank wine 
rarely, hardly ever approached the fire, the ardor of 
divine love serving her at all seasons. She was clothed 
in winter as in summer, not thinking herself worthy 
even to wear that which could no longer be used by 
others." 2 " God had prevented Marie-Hyacinthe Cour- 
tin with His holy fear and so lively a horror of sin that, 
though shunning even its shadow, she dreaded to ap 
proach the sacraments. Endless time was necessary 
for her to prepare for confession, in which, however, she 
failed not to be short and clear, in spite of the great 
scruples by which she was devoured on the score of the 
Office. This, joined to her great abstinence and morti 
fication, reduced her to a slow decline." 3 Marie-Char 
lotte Benoit was still more penitential. "Her strong 
and generous soul made her aim at perfection in the 
most vigorous manner. She did nothing by halves. 
She sacrificed herself and carried her severity so far 
that her conduct on this point is more admirable than 
imitable. She treated her body so harshly during her 
lifetime that, like St. Bernard, fearful of having short 
ened her days, she was constrained at the hour of death 
to ask its pardon. This state of continual death makes 

1 Circular of March 15, 1703. 

2 Circular of April 18, 1713. 
8 Circular of March 23, 1725. 



So Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

us regard her as another St. Jerome." They compared 
Rosalie de Farges to another Elias, whose ardor and 
penance she possessed. We shall see her pass her entire 
life on Calvary in the mi dst of austerities that make one 
tremble. 2 

To this austerity, this mortification, which left their 
traces on the countenance of the Sisters of Paray, was 
joined a love for Rule carried, perhaps, to so high a de 
gree in no other convent. Sister Jeanne-Aimee lay at the 
point of death. The Superioress found her absorbed in 
God, her hands clasping the book of Constitutions. To 
the questions addressed to her, she answered: "Ah! 
Mother, the Lord has made known to me that I can 
enter heaven only by these three doors: the observance 
of our holy Rules, the love of our neighbor, and humil 
ity." 1 " Marie- Joseph Bouthier, dying at the age of 
twenty-one, and pained at leaving life so young, ex 
claimed: Alas! I have only begun to live, and behold, 
I must die. To reconcile herself to the sacrifice, she 
kissed the book of Constitutions and found therein 
strength to submit to the holy will of God." Marie- 
Hyacinthe Courtin always had her Rules in her hand. 
By them she regulated all her actions, not wishing " to 
do anything more or less," which words she had taken 
as her device. 5 The zeal with which Sister Catherine- 
Augustine Marest was animated, not to say inflamed, for 
the holy Rule, would not suffer a failure in the least 
point of it; but God made her understand, at last, that 
it would be more meritorious to moderate her rigor. 
"Attached to her Rule alone, she understood nothing 
of the mysteries of direction, as she herself said smiling. 
Her Rule, her Superioress, her ordinary confessor, suf- 

1 Circular of December 17, 1717. 

2 Circular of May 14, 1743. 

3 Circular of December 17, 1717. 

4 Circular of March 23, 1725. 

8 Circular of December 17, 1717. 



The Convent of Par ay. 81 

ficed for her." 1 They said as much of Sister Seraphique 
de la Martiniere, whose ehief attraction was love of the 
hidden life and exact observance of Rule. " All that was 
high and sublime was suspected by her." 2 And in an 
other place we read of Sister de Damas de Barnay : " What 
was singular and admirable was not for her." 

Let us carefully note all these traits: that exact ob^ 
servance of Rule; that care of regulating their actions 
by the motto, " Neither more nor less;" that fear of 
everything high and sublime, everything singular and 
admirable; that sweet smile when speaking of those 
mysteries of direction, etc. In them we touch upon 
one of the most striking characteristics of the convent 
of Paray, the true cause of the passing opposition that 
Margaret was going to meet there, and which has been 
till now so little understood and so unfairly estimated. 

Let us add that these ardent souls, so generous, so 
strongly attached to their Rules, were incredibly humble 
and obedient. " Sister Anne-Alexis was like a ball of 
wax in the hands of God and of those that held to her 
His place. It was this that made them put her into all 
the offices high and low, by which she was neither 
elated nor cast down, but always frank and cordial, and 
of exemplary regularity." ; When they informed Sister 
de Vichy-Chamron, who had broken her abbatial crosier 
to enter the Visitation, that they thought of making her 
directress, tears filled her eyes, she trembled and 
swooned. 4 It was the same with Mother de Levis- 
Chateaumorand when there was question of making her 
Superioress. Obliged to submit, she left at her death a 
written request that, contrary to custom, they would 
write nothing about her, but leave her memory in 
eternal oblivion. 5 The Sisters did not obey this order. 

1 Circular of December 17, 1717. 2 Ibid. 

3 Abridgment of the Life and Virtues of Sister Anne-Alexis de 
Mareschalle (a small quarto of 10 pages). 

4 Circular of February 20, 1738. 6 Abridgment of Life. 



82 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Would to God they had not obeyed a similar recom 
mendation left by Sister Marie-Madeleine dcs Escures, 
at first Margaret s most intimate friend, whose affection, 
a little too lively, was in those first days the trial of her 
novitiate; later, her most zealous adversary, because, 
though fervent, but less enlightened than our saint, it 
seemed to her that the latter strayed from the Rule 
and the spirit of the Visitation, above which she herself 
prized nothing; and finally, when she saw her error, 
the most humble, most zealous of the adorers of the 
Sacred Heart and of the disciples of Margaret Mary. 
It is also to be regretted that the Sisters conformed so 
exactly to the written requests left by Sisters Angelique 
de Damas de Barnay, Jeanne-Frangoise Chalon, de 
Coligny, and a number of others. Their love having 
led them to quit all and bury themselves in the cloister, 
it now led them to desire to be forgotten even by the 
cloister. 

It is needless to say that love for God crowned these 
numerous virtues and inflamed all souls. It was love a 
little timid, we must admit, though strong and austere 
after the fashion of the seventeenth century, in which 
generosity was unlimited, but in which tenderness 
should have predominated. The great devotion of 
Marie-Anne Cordier was to the immensity of God, and 
she incessantly buried herself in this abyss as a nothing 
that He is about to destroy. 1 That of Seraphique de la 
Martiniere was for the infinite majesty of God. This 
idea she had constantly before her eyes; therefore she 
always worked on her knees. 2 Marie-Emerentianne 
Rosselin was almost always buried in the contemplation 
of God s justice, which thought tinged her life with 
fear. 3 It was the same with Marie-Catherine du Chail- 
loux, whose days were passed in terror of His judg- 

1 Circular of April 18, 1713. 

2 Circular of March 23, 1725. 
9 Ibid. 



The Convent of Par ay. 83 

ments. All that she heard in sermons, all that she 
read on the end of man, predestination, or fidelity to 
grace, impressed her so forcibly that she was ready to 
die of fright. We would be unable to rehearse all the 
penances she performed to obtain the peace of the 
children of God, which she at last possessed after hav 
ing purchased it so dearly." 

But these grand views, which have so deteriorated in 
our days, and which then filled souls with so lively 
respect for God, do not hinder love. Sister Seraphique 
de la Martiniere, who, as we have said, always labored 
on her knees, appeared inflamed with that fire of divine 
love which Jesus Christ came to enkindle upon earth. 
The assaults of divine love often reduced her to death, 
and she complained tenderly to her God, saying: " I 
can bear no more! Have regard to my weakness, 
O Lord, or I shall expire under the violence of Thy 
love!" 3 That other Sister, Marie-Anne Cordier, who 
always felt herself annihilated before the immensity of 
God, had at the same time for Him a love so lively, so, 
strong, so ardent, that, according to her own expression, 
she would die of sorrow at not being able to die of love. 3 
"O Mother!" said Sister Emerentianne Rosselin, "I 
long; passionately to die in order to see my God;" and 
her eyes, whilst saying these words, shone with so vivid 
a light that in them could be read the truth of what 
she affirmed.* Sister Marie-Suzanne Piedenuz made 
every day one hundred acts of the love of God; 5 and 
eyes filled with tears on beholding Sister Catherine 
Seraphique Bouillet, a venerable old Sister, on her 
knees, her hands joined, asking the little novices what 

1 Circular of October i, 1743. 
3 Circular of March 23, 1725. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Ibid. 

6 Ann6e Sainte, vol. v. p. 353. 



84 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

she must do to love God. " For I languish with love 
of Him," said she, "and I cannot be satisfied." 

The two great devotions of the convent were, as we 
see, the Cross and the Holy Eucharist the tomb of 
sacrifice and the tomb of Love Eternal. The religious 
went to the first to entertain and there excite that 
thirst for immolation, for penance, for austerity and 
humiliation, which devoured them. There is not one of 
those lives in which we do not discover that the second 
source of their piety was the Lord in the Holy Sacra 
ment. According to the old Memoires: " They ran 
thither as if famished." 

We begin now to discover the true features of Paray. 
In founding his grand work of the Visitation, the 
saintly Bishop of Geneva had, we remember, two lofty, 
prevailing ideas. They were tutelary angels far in 
advance of their time, and which for that reason met a 
thousand difficulties that stranded the one and kept the 
other in constant jeopardy. The first idea of St. Fran 
cis de Sales was to found religious for the service of 
the poor. The world cried out against it, and con 
strained the holy prelate to erect the grates of the 
cloister. Baffled in this, the saint thought of that 
multitude of souls who, from want of robust health, 
could not enter Carmel or the Poor Clares, and drew 
up a kind of life in which recollection, sweetness, the 
spirit of mortification, and amiable charity were to 
supply for corporal austerities, which the want alluded 
to rendered impossible. But here that vast tide of com 
punction which swept through the seventeenth century 
began to swell and carry on its breast crowds to the 
Visitation. Paray was of this number. Behold those 
cloister-grates, more austere than St. Francis de Sales 
demanded ; those frequent disciplines, those continual 
fasts! See that multitude of Sisters forced to ask 
pardon of their body for having treated it so badly! 
1 Circular of May 4, 1704. 



The Convent of Par ay. 85 

See them trembling before God with holy fear, over 
powered by the feeling of His immensity, His awful 
greatness! In a word, look at that love, generous but 
not sufficiently tender, and you have a picture of Paray 
in 1671. It was more austere than St. Francis de Sales 
wished, but it was not less fervent than he could have 
possibly desired. 

Were the generous-souled inmates of this convent 
sad ? Listen to a remark repeated a thousand times 
and with perfect truth: "The more severe the Rule, the 
gayer the religious." In the lives of the Sisters who 
then composed the Community of Paray, one reads with 
surprise words most pleasing. There is hardly one of 
those religious of whom they do not say that she was 
a good friend; 1 one of the best friends that could be 
found; 2 a soul sincere and frank in her friendship; 3 a 
royal heart; 4 a noble and liberal heart; 5 a heart the most 
sensible to affection and most grateful for the least 
service. 8 Their records sing on every note of the scale 
of the amiability, gayety, sweetness, eagerness to give 
pleasure, lively and spiritual repartee, beautiful talents of 
all kinds. 7 Marie-Therese Basset, daughter of the mayor 
of Roanne, understood business so well as to surprise 
the lawyers of her day. " She has been most useful to 
us," say the Memoires, " in the care of our papers; and 
her distinct and beautiful penmanship has been of 
marvellous assistance. On entering the cloister she 
brought with her a library so well furnished that it was 
for us a valuable present. 8 Sister Marie-Catherine du 

1 Circular of March 23, 1/25. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Circular of November i, 1715. 

4 Circular of March 8, 1701. 

6 Circular of December 17, 1717. 

6 Circular of July 7, 1743. 

7 See the above-mentioned Circulars, along with others already 
quoted or from which we are going to quote. 

8 Circular of December 17, 1717: see her detailed Life. 



86 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Chailloux wielded a not less able pen. It was she who 
wrote the Annales of the convent of Paray, "a work 
that immortalized her among us." 1 Sister Anne-Alexis 
de Mareschalle wrote charming verses. " She possessed a 
joyousnessof heart that was reflected in her countenance 
and entered into her conversation, always gay and holily 
joyous. She also wrote very beautiful couplets to 
animate herself to fervor ever new."* Sister Marie- 
Suzanne Piedenuz did better still, for she composed a 
great number of poems and canticles. She transposed 
into verse the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin, consisting 
of one hundred and fifty Psalms, composed by St. 
Bonaventure. 3 Madeleine-Victoire de Vichy-Chamron 
also cultivated poetry. The time passed in her cell was 
so agreeable that, far from being wearisome, she always 
found it too short. She composed spiritual canticles 
full of energy and fervor. Some of the poems then 
written in the convent of Paray have been preserved. 
They are not inferior to those cited by M. Cousin com 
posed at the same epoch by Mile, de Bourbon, Mile, de 
Rambouillet, Mile, de Bouteville and Mile, de Brienne at 
the chateau of Chantilly. 4 Margaret Mary is about to 
join this choir of voices sweet and pure, and our dear 
little country-girl will warble melodiously as they. 

"A chased and panting fawn, 
I seek the flowing stream. 
The hunter s flying dart 
Has pierced my inmost heart." 

Let us now bring an artiste to the front. Marie- 
Anne Cordier covered the convent with her pictures. 
Seizing the brush herself, she painted the chapel of the 
Blessed Virgin, the ceiling azure sown with golden 
stars, which produced a lovely effect. Again, she in- 

1 Circular of July 7, 1743. 
8 Circular of March 9, 1733. 

3 Annee Sainte, vol. i. p. 353. 

4 Cousin, La Jeunesse de Mme, de Longueville, p. 217. 



The Convent of Par ay. 87 

spired painters and sculptors with her own ideas, with 
which workmen even the most expert were charmed. 
She had the altar-piece made, she herself furnishing the 
idea to a very skilful sculptor. She had made, also, 
some figures in copper representing the mysteries of 
the Passion. They were placed in a corridor leading 
to the infirmary, at the end of which was a Calvary. 
She had, in fine, painted all around the Blessed Virgin s 
chapel the mysteries of her life. 1 The chapel of the 
Sacred Heart, however, she had not the happiness of 
thus embellishing. Whether she was suffering at the 
time or other reasons intervened we do not know, but 
that honor was reserved for Marie-Nicole de la Faige 
des Claines. Born of a great family, the recipient of a 
brilliant education, she had, perhaps, a more exquisite 
talent. She, also, it was who painted the first picture 
representing the Sacred Heart surrounded by angels. 2 
Another Sister, Frangoise-Eleonore de Vichy-Chamron, 
succeeded so well in small crayons " that some of her 
work, after exciting the admiration of Mgr. Cardinal de 
Bouillon, was sent by him not only to his noble rela 
tives in Paris, but one also to the Holy Father, Pope 
Clement XI. His Eminence assures us that it. was hon 
ored with a place in the breviary of His Holiness, who 
praised its delicacy very much." : 

Whilst some of the nuns charmed thus the leisure 
hours of their cloistered life, warming their heart by 
devout poetic effusions and beautiful paintings, others 
plied the needle. Through a spirit of devotion for the 
ornamentation of the holy altar; or through a peniten 
tial spirit of labor; or again, after the pestilence, through 
the necessity of supplying their own wants, they busied 
themselves in similar occupations, in all which, how 
ever, they showed themselves most expert, and per- 

1 Circular of April 18, 1713. 
* Ann6e Sainte, vol. ix. p. 727. 
8 Vie et CEuvres, vol. i. p, 483, 



88 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

formed wonders. Frangoise-Marguerite d Athose, we 
are told, " was one of the most skilful in weaving laces 
of gold and silver, which we made at that time for a 
merchant of Lyons." When Sister Madeleine de 
Vichy-Chamron took the veil, she was attired in a 
magnificent dress of cherry-colored moire with under 
skirt of silver moire, which she afterward devoted to 
the altar. With the assistance of her dear Sisters, she 
embroidered it beautifully in gold and silver. Their 
skilful fingers succeeded so well that their work was 
long used as our most beautiful ornaments. 2 Sister 
de Vichy-Chamron had as friend and rival in this sort 
of work Catherine-Augustine Marest, who employed 
her time and extraordinary talent in making laces of 
point a la reine to trim albs and surplices. She was also 
remarkably skilful in making gold and silver laces to be 
sold in Lyons, and the result of her labor was so suc 
cessful as to furnish the necessary funds to erect in the 
church the chapel of St. Francis de Sales. 3 They praise 
the exquisite tapestry of Sister Marie-Catherine du 
Chailloux, wrought in her early religious days; for 
later, through humility, she asked and obtained per 
mission to make a vow to employ her time in shoe- 
making. With the same hand that had arranged the 
Annalcs of the convent, she for forty years made the 
shoes of its inmates. 4 It was the same sentiment of 
humility that induced Madeleine de Vichy-Chamron to 
abandon her embroidery in gold and silver for the cloth- 
factory that the Sisters of Paray had established in their 
house to defray the expenses of their convent, desolated 
by the pestilence. She passed many years there making 

1 Circular of March 23, 1725. 

2 Circular of January 20, 1738. Those beautiful ornaments have not 
perished. Splendidly restored, they were used at the feast of the 
Beatification. 

3 Circular of December 17, 1717. 

4 Circular of July 7, 1743. 



The Convent of Par ay. 8<\ 

cinctures with a little loom or frame, and spinning the 
woof of the stuff with which the frames were covered. 

When Mme. de Maulvrier expressed astonishment at 
seeing a girl of her birth in so low an employment, she 
received the beautiful reply that, low as it was, it was 
far too honorable for her. 1 She had in this work as 
teacher and mistress Sister Anne-Alexis de Mareschalle, 
who had been the first to learn the art from a cloth- 
weaver and his wife, very poor, plain people, " under 
whom she suffered much in acquiring her knowledge of 
spinning and weaving." But nothing could daunt her. 
She had the establishment of this cloth-factory at heart, 
and she afterward devoted seventeen years to it. 3 
Another brave soul devoted to this humble and labo 
rious work was Catherine-Augustine Marest, a skilled 
point-lace maker. She remained long years in the fac 
tory, turning her great wheel with recollection that 
edified the beholders, and strength that no fatigue 
rould overcome, looking upon herself the while as the 
dolt of the house. Thus did Mother Greyfie smilingly 
call her. Not that Sister Catherine was wanting in 
spirit. She possessed the gift of repartee, the most 
lively and the most spiritual, along with judgment the 
very best. It was in allusion to the labors with which 
she overburdened herself that she received the charac 
teristic epithet. 3 

To possess a picture true and complete of the convent 
of Paray, we must add that from the first days was 
established in it a boarding-school to which the great 
families of the Charolais, of the Maconnais, of the 
Autunesse hastened to send their daughters, too happy 
at being able to confide them to women like Mother de 
Levis-Chateaumorand, Sister Marie-Catherine du Chail- 
loux, Sister de Vichy-Chamron, Sister d Athose, Sister 

1 Circular of February 20, 1738. 

2 Circular of March 23, 1725. 

3 Ibid. 



go Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

de Damas, Sister de Coligny, and so many others, so 
pious, so distinguished in gifts of mind and heart, who 
in abandoning the world had not parted with their 
charms nor dispossessed themselves of their talents. 
We shall mention only one of these little boarders, 
Marie-Madeleine de Chaugy, whom St. Chantal found 
there on her last visit, whom she took with her to 
Annecy, and whom later on we know as so great a 
religious and so brilliant a writer. 

Such was the convent of Paray. It was one of the 
most fervent of the Order, one of the most generous. 
They called it " dear Paray," and " the Tabor of Supe 
rioresses," on account of the sweet union and perfect 
obedience of the Sisters. God visibly blessed this 
house, though none knew as yet His mysterious de 
signs upon it. Finally, when all was ready, May 25, 
1671, the doors of the sanctuary opened, and the King 
of Love entered " dear Paray" to introduce therein His 
well-beloved. 1 

Margaret was then twenty-three years old; and, 
although no correct likeness has been left us of her, we 
may picture her to ourselves from what we know of her 
appearance by hearsay. She was tall, a little above the 
ordinary height, and her constitution delicate. Her 
expressive face was lighted up by soft, clear eyes, and 
her manners w r ere gay and graceful, 3 her whole air 
agreeable and vivacious. 3 Add to this great intelli 
gence, a judgment solid, keen, and penetrating, a noble 
soul and a great heart, 4 and we have the portrait of 
Margaret Mary on her entrance at Paray. Her features 

1 Abridgment of the life and virtues of our very virtuous Mother 
Margaret-Hieronyme Hersant, Superioress of the convent of Paray. 
(Annee Sainte, vol. i. p. 742.) 

* Visit made at the parlor to Margaret Mary by Pere Leau, S.J. 
(Vie de la Bienheureuse, by Pere Daniel, p. 352.) 

3 Deposition of Mother Greyfie. 

4 Vie de la Bienheureuse, par P. Croiset, 



The Convent of Par ay. 91 

bore the impress of the most lively piety, but she had 
not yet " that incomparable recollection, 1 that meek 
and humble exterior, 2 that air of lowliness even to the 
centre of her nothingness" 3 by which later on she was 
distinguished. The Sisters extended to her that tender 
and maternal welcome that all young girls, after tearing 
themselves from the embraces of their families, received 
upon their arrival at the convent. They surrounded 
her with kindness and affection; but none suspected 
the treasure with which God had just enriched their 
humble convent. 

1 Deposition of Sister Anne-Alexis de Mareschalle. 

2 Visit made to the parlor by the Rev. Fathers Villette and Croiset. 

3 Circular of March 23, 1725. 



92 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary A lacoque. 




CHAPTER V. 

MARGARET MARY S NOVITIATE GOD PREPARES HER 
FOR THE GREAT MISSION ABOUT TO BE ENTRUSTED 
TO HER PIER PROFESSION. 

May 25, 1671-November 6, 1672. 

" Ecce venio ad te quern amavi, quern quaesivi, quern semper 
optavi." 

" Behold, I come to thee whom I have loved, whom I have sought, 
whom I have always desired." Rom. Brev., Ant. of St. Agnes. 

first word addressed to Margaret by the ven- 
erable Mother Thouvant, the day after the entrance 
of the former at Paray, will ever remain celebrated. 
Margaret, inflamed with the desire of giving herself en 
tirely to God, went to ask her mistress by what means 
she should do so, imploring her especially to teach her 
the secret of making prayer. Mother Thouvant replied: 
" Go place yourself before God like canvas before a 
painter" words brief but full, in which -Margaret dis 
covered the whole secret of prayer. 1 To kneel at the 
Lord s feet, to contemplate Him, to allow His holy 
image to be impressed upon us; and for that end to 
present Him a soul simple, recollected, pure like those 
beautiful silver plates on which, thanks to the discov 
eries of modern science, only the perfect image can be 

1 The expression une toile d attente, which may be translated " pre 
pared canvas," was current in the convent of Paray as one of its most 
ancient traditions. In 1628 one of its religious foundresses fell ill. 
During her fearful torments she was heard to cry out: " O sweet 
hand of my Spouse, sketch ! sketch !" The Superioress asked her 
what she meant by those words. " Ah, Mother," she answered, " I 
mean I am before God as canvas under the hand of a painter. I am 
supplicating Him to delineate in me the perfect image of my crucified 
Jesus." (Annee Sainte, vol. x. p. 313.) 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 93 

depicted, behold the true method of prayer. Mar 
garet went to prostrate herself at the Lord s feet, and to 
fulfil the word of her instructress. " As soon as I knelt 
before Him," she said, " my Sovereign Master made 
known to me that my soul was the canvas on which He 
desired to paint the features of His suffering life; of 
that life which He passed until its consummation in 
love, silence, and sacrifice. But perfectly to produce 
these features, He had first to purify it from every stain, 
from every affection to earthly things, from love of self 
and of creatures, to whom I was still greatly inclined." 

From this moment Margaret felt enkindled within 
her so ardent a desire for suffering that rest was no 
longer hers. One thought possessed her soul, and that 
was how should she crucify herself for a God who had 
allowed Himself to be crucified for love of her. To no 
purpose had she guarded inviolably the white robe of 
baptism; to no purpose had she at the age of three 
made a vow of virginity, and renewed it at six; to no 
purpose at twenty-three had she placed between her 
self and the world the impenetrable cloister-grate: all 
this was too little for the flame now kindled within her. 
Her life, though so pure, filled her with horror. She 
burned to wash in her tears and bathe in her own blood, 
that by so doing she might purge from her veins the 
last vestige of sin. O tears of Margaret Mary! blood 
stained scourges, avenging whips, insatiable thirst for 
humiliation and penance; holy industry to purify and 
adorn her soul for the coming of the Spouse! How 
shall I describe you? St. Francis de Sales himself was 
necessary to interpose limits to the young postulant s 
ardor. One day he had smilingly said to his daughters 
gathered around him that if, in order to assume aus 
terities contrary to their Rules, they ever forgot the 
spirit of moderation and sweetness in which he desired 
them to live, he would return and make so much noise 
1 Memoire, p. 313. 



94 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

in their dormitories as to make them readily understand 
that they were acting against his will. Margaret knew 
something of this. " My blessed Father," said she, 
" reproved me so sternly for going beyond the limits of 
obedience that I have never since had the courage to 
repeat the offence." " Ah, what, my daughter," said he 
to me, " do you think to please God by trespassing the 
bounds of obedience? Obedience, and not the practice 
of austerities, sustains this congregation." 

But if St. Francis de Sales could interfere to moderate 
this thirst for immolation and penance which awoke in 
Margaret s heart stronger than ever on the day she 
crossed the threshold of the convent door, he had only to 
bless and encourage another desire that appeared at the 
same time: that of casting herself headlong, as she said, 
into obedience, humility, self-contempt, and the attain 
ing, as perfectly as she could, the perfection of his holy 
Institute. To be a religious only by halves horrified her. 
And, indeed, it is scarcely worth one s while to leave 
the world for so little! The daughters of St. Francis de 
Sales were styled at that time " The Holy Maries" and 
Margaret resolved to be, in the full sense of the word, 
a holy Mary. We shall soon see whether or not she suc 
ceeded. 

Three months passed in those first efforts, at the end 
of which the nuns gave her the holy habit, on the feast 
of St. Louis, August 25, 1671. No details of this cere 
mony have been preserved. Her sister-novices tell us, 
however, in their deposition that her countenance 
breathed but modesty and humility, and that a joyous 
light played on every feature. 2 This was but a feeble 
indication of what was passing in the depths of her heart; 
for on this same day the Lord showed Himself to her as 
the true Lover of her soul, as the One whom she had 
chosen above all others, as the One that would indemnify 

1 Memoire, p. 314. 

2 Process ot 1715, Deposition ot Sister Contois. 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 95 

her for all that she had left for Him. " My Divine Mas 
ter," she said, " let me see that this was the time of our 
betrothal, and, like the most ardent of lovers, He made 
me taste what was sweetest in the sweetness of His 
love." " Indeed," she adds, " His favors were so excess 
ive that they frequently transported my soul, and ren 
dered me incapable of acting. This caused me so deep 
confusion that I dared not show my face." 1 Torrents 
of tears flowed at times from her eyes, and again her 
countenance sparkled like a star. She was, for the most 
part, so absorbed that she seemed to be no longer on 
earth. This state was so noticeable that the Sisters, 
astonished, began to say to themselves: "What is this 
little novice about? What is going on within her?" 

What was passing in Margaret s soul none knew at 
that time. It was only long after that obedience, more 
powerful than humility, wrested from her the secret of 
the wonders with which she was honored in those first 
days. 3 She had, indeed, hardly taken the habit when 
she received from God an extraordinary grace, one very 
rare in the lives of the saints. The Lord began to ap 
pear to her, not from time to time and from afar, as we 
read in the life of St. Catharine of Siena and of St. 
Teresa, but in a constant and ever-present manner. 3 
" 1 saw Him," she said, " I felt Him near me, and I 
understood Him much better than if I had seen and 
heard Him with my corporal senses. Had it been by 
the latter, I should have been able to distract my atten 
tion, to turn away from it; but not having any part in 
it, I could not prevent this kind of communication." 

1 Memoire, p. 314. 

2 Memoire of Mother Greyfie on the life and virtues of our pious 
Sister Margaret Mary. This Memoire, of thirty pages, is very pre 
cious. We shall frequently quote from it. 

3 It would seem, at first sight, that this admirable privilege was not 
conferred on Margaret Mary till after her profession. She does not, in 
fact, mention it until this time. But in two other places she says ex 
pressly that she enjoyed it even before that event. 



96 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

" He honored me," she adds, " with His conversation 
sometimes as a friend, sometimes as an ardently loving 
spouse, or as a tender father full of love for his only 
child, and in many other ways." 

There were in this rare and marvellous privilege, in 
this Divine Presence, less seen than felt, though con 
tinual and penetrating, two diverse aspects, like two 
poles, that the Lord showed her in turn. Margaret 
Mary, not knowing how to define them, called one the 
sanctity of justice, the other the sanctity of love. The 
first, the sanctity of justice, made her tremble at the 
sight of His infinite Majesty. He impressed on her 
words cannot say what sentiment of annihilation, which 
made her long to hide in the depths of her own noth 
ingness. She dared remain only on her knees before 
this awful Majesty. A number of witnesses deposed at 
the process of canonization that when alone, working, 
reading, or writing, she always knelt on the ground as if 
overwhelmed with respect before the invisible presence 
of an invisible Being. "She was so united to God," 
said Sister Marie-Nicole de la Faige, " that, whether 
working, writing, or reading, she was always on her 
knees with such recollection as one might expect to see 
in church." The deponent adds that several times she 
beheld her for three or four consecutive hours in the 
same position, on her knees, immovable, absorbed in 
God; and she was often found bathed in tears. 3 "I 
was often witness of the fact," said Sister Marie Cheva 
lier de Montrouan, an Ursuline and an old pupil of the 
Visitation of Paray, " that Sister Margaret Mary always 
worked on her knees. Her recollection was such that 
curiosity often impelled me to gaze at her a long time, 
and I used to invite my little companions to come 
look at her. This they did, though unperceived by her, 

1 Memoire, p. 319. 

2 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister Marie-Nicole de la Faige 
des Claines. 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 97 

so absorbed was she in God." 1 "This union with 
God," says another witness, " was such that one might 
say she preserved it even in sleep. " a 

But working on her knees through respect for the in 
finite Majesty that everywhere accompanied her, was 
in Margaret the least of the effects of the sanctity of 
justice. She would have wished to annihilate herself 
before that Presence; and she would have desired that 
every fibre of her being might be destroyed, since she 
saw not one that was pure. Not being able to effect 
this, she tried, at least, to immolate and sacrifice herself. 
" If we had not snatched the scourge from her hands," 
says Mother Greyfie, " her blood would have never 
ceased to flow." J 

Behold what the sight of that which she called 
"the sanctity of justice" produced in her! If the 
Lord then depicted under her view " the sanctity of 
love," it was as if He enkindled a star before her a 
thousand times more brilliant. The sight of justice 
and of the Divine Majesty may be supported; but not 
that of infinite love. To be loved on earth, to be loved 
by a being noble, elevated, distinguished ; to be faithful 
ly loved, loved devotedly, oh, what enchantment! But 
to be loved by God and loved even to folly! Mar 
garet s heart dissolved at the thought, and, like St. 
Philip Neri and St. Francis Xavier, she cried out to 
God: " Withhold, O my God, these torrents that ingulf 
me, or enlarge my capacity to receive them ! " 4 

But the benign Saviour was not satisfied with accom 
panying the young novice at every step, darting on her 
at every turn rays of His love and justice. He appeared 
to her from time to time visibly. He spoke to her, en 
couraged her in her difficulties, consoled her in her 
sacrifices, and reproved her for her faults. One day when 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister Marie-Nicole de la Faige des 
Claines. 

2 Ibid. 3 Mother Greyfie s Memoire. 
4 Me" moire of Mother Greyfie, p. 117. 



98 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

she was yielding to some little negligence, " Learn," 
said He to her, " that I am a holy Master, who teaches 
sanctity. I am pure and cannot suffer the least stain." 
This was said in so stern a tone that there was no sor 
row, no suffering she would not have preferred. 1 An 
other day when she seated herself to say her Rosary, 
He appeared and darted upon her a glance in which 
was mingled so much love and anger that, twenty years 
after, she trembled with fear and happiness at its re 
membrance. Again, she tells us: " Once I yielded to 
an emotion of vanity in speaking of myself. O God, 
how many tears this fault caused me! for when next 
alone He reproved me with: * What art thou, O dust 
and ashes, and in what dost thou glory, since thou hast 
of thyself naught but nothingness ? That thou mayest 
never lose sight of what thou art, I shall place before 
thy eyes a picture of thyself. And then He allowed 
me to see what I am. The sight filled me with surprise 
and created in me such horror of self, that if He had 
not sustained me, I should have swooned with grief. 
It was by suffering such as this that He punished the 
least emotion of self-complacency. This forced me to 
say to Him sometimes: Alas, O my God, either let 
me die, or hide from me this picture! I cannot behold 
it and live : The sight inspired me with hatred and 
vengeance against myself; whilst, on the other hand, 
obedience did not permit me to perform the rigorous 
penances that they suggested. I cannot express all 
that I suffered." a 

If, however, the Lord was severe toward faults against 
the virtue of religion, faults against respect before the 
Blessed Sacrament, for defects of uprightness, of purity 
of intention, of humility, nothing could equal His in 
flexible severity when there was question of faults 
against obedience, apart from which the greatest virtues 
become crimes; the most costly sacrifice, fruits of cor- 

1 Me moire of Mother Greyfie, p. 323. 2 Memoire, p. 330. 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 99 

raption deserving only His wrath. " You deceive 
yourself," said He to her, "in thinking to please Me by 
such actions and mortifications. I am much more 
pleased to see a soul take some little alleviation through 
obedience than to overwhelm herself with austerities 
and fasts by her own will." 1 "All this the "Lord said 
to me so frequently, so distinctly, in terms so precise, 
under figures so touching, that I determined," said she, 
"to die rather than trespass, however little, the limits of 
obedience." 2 

Tender and good to this soul as toward all others, 
though operating in her a little more, since she was 
destined fora grand and perilous mission, the Lord 
formed her Himself. He aided her to ascend rapidly 
the first degrees of perfection, and fitted her gradually 
to receive in humility and entire self-forgetfulness His 
divine communications. " Nothing was difficult to 
me," she writes, "because at this time Jesus steeped 
the severity of my sufferings in the sweetness of His 
love. I frequently besought Him to withdraw that 
sweetness from me, that I might taste the bitterness of 
His anguish, the pangs of His death. But He bade me 
submit to His conduct, and said that I should see later 
how wise and able a director He is who knows how to 
guide souls when, forgetful of self, they abandon them 
selves to Him." 3 

Whilst things were thus going on in the soul of Mar 
garet Mary, the Sisters, who saw only the exterior, be 
gan to experience astonishment and alarm. In vain 
did the humble novice try to hide the graces with which 
she was inundated. They could not be concealed. 
What most astonished the Sisters was, not only the 
long hours that she passed on her knees in the choir 
or in her cell, her face radiant, her eyes full of tears, 
but the state of constant abstraction from which it was 
necessary to arouse her. Her work fell from her hands, 

1 MSmoire p. 324. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid., p. 325. 



ioo Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

and she forgot everything. The poor child s soul was 
in heaven, and she knew but imperfectly how to con 
duct herself on earth. 

Her Superiors were still more disquieted than the 
Sisters. From the very first, Mother Thouvant, the 
mistress of novices, thought it her duty to inform Mar 
garet that her manner of acting was not in accordance 
with the spirit of the Visitation, and that if she did not 
change she could not be admitted to profession. 1 

The words threw Margaret into great desolation of 
soul, and she did her best to change her manner of life. 
But how accomplish it? " This spirit," she said, " had 
already acquired such ascendency over mine that I 
could no longer control it, any more than my other 
powers which I felt absorbed in it." 2 

What the venerable Mother Thouvant desired, and 
very justly too, of one so young and inexperienced was 
the exterior renunciation of extraordinary lights, and 
the practice of prayer according to the simple way in 
which the other novices were instructed. Margaret did 
not hesitate to obey, but her efforts were fruitless. " I 
made," she said, "every effort to follow the method of 
prayer taught me, along with other practices; but my 
mind retained nothing of all those teachings. The 
beautiful points of prayer vanished, and I could neither 
learn nor retain anything but what my Divine Master 
taught me. This made me suffer greatly, for His opera 
tions in me were frustrated as much as possible, and 1 
had to resist Him as much as I was able." 3 It was like 
Jacob s wrestling with the angel. Margaret Mary came 
forth bruised and wounded, though having gained more 
and more the heart of her mistress by her admirable 
obedience. 

To assist her in her efforts, and to aid her to over 
come, if possible, her state of absorption, which was 
what the Community most remarked, Margaret Mary 
1 M6moire, p. 314. 2 Ibid., p. 20. 3 Ibid., p. 320. 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 101 

was given as aid to Sister Catherine-Augustine Marest, 
the infirmarian, who had instructions to keep her con 
stantly employed, and not to allow her a moment s 
rest. This Sister Marest was one marvellously well 
chosen for her work. She was " incomparable in 
strength of body and mind;" greatly given to the active 
life, very little to the contemplative; caring little for 
the mysteries of direction, as she pleasantly said; know 
ing only her Rule, nothing more, nothing less; but 
nobly observing that Rule even to heroism. To all 
this she joined a love of God, not tender nor contem 
plative, but warm and ardent. She was a true Martha 
with whom was now associated a true Mary. And 
it turned out just as we read in the Gospel. Martha 
complained of Mary, who, transported, in spite of her 
self, with excessive joy, constantly relapsed from the 
activity imposed upon her into the sweet sleep of 
contemplation. 1 If permitted to enter the choir to 
hear the subject of meditation read, scarcely was it over 
before Margaret Mary was instructed to go sweep the 
corridors, clean the cells, weed the garden, etc. Over 
burdened with work, and longing for that prayer which 
she had not been allowed to make, she went to her mis 
tress to beg time to resume it. But the latter repri 
manded her sharply. She told her that it was strange 
she knew not how to unite prayer and labor, and sent 
her to other occupations more numerous and more over 
whelming. 

But these Sisters did well. The Lord, who was en 
riching Margaret Mary s soul, reigned supreme Master 
in it and, in spite of every obstacle, inebriated it with 
delight. Pacing the corridors, broom in hand, whilst 
the Sisters were sweetly kneeling at the foot of the holy 
altar, Margaret Mary had ever before her eyes the in 
visible Object of her love. She contemplated Him, she 
listened to Him, she lived under the charm of the per- 

Circular of December 17, 1717. Annee Sainte, vol. ii. p. 242. 



IO2 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

petual vision granted her by her Celestial Spouse. Work 
ing, she sang: 

" The more they contradict my love, 

The more that love inflames. 
By day, by night, they torture me, 

But cannot break my chains. 
My Lover s love s of such a kind, 

The more I suffer pain, 
The closer does He my poor heart 

Unto His own enchain." J 

The anniversary of her admission to the habit was now 
approaching, August 25, 1672, and yet she was not called 
to her holy profession. The embarrassment of the 
Community increased every day. The Sisters admired 
her virtues; her unbounded humility; her obedience; 
her love of Rule, so much the more striking-as it seemed 
to lead her in the most extraordinary ways; and her 
charity, -which placed her at the service of all. She was 
not very skilful in ordinary domestic ways, but she was 
so good, so eager, that whilst thanking her for services 
badly rendered, the recipient could not fail to be 
touched by her goodness of heart. Mother Hersant did 
not hesitate to say that Margaret Mary was called to 
extraordinary sanctity; 2 and from two or three circum 
stances it could be seen that she was capable of the 
most heroic sacrifices. Once, for example, she struggled 
against a natural repugnance till she fainted. Again, 
being tenderly attached to Sister Marie-Madeleine des 
Escures, one of the companions of her novitiate, she was 
warned- interiorly that this sweet union saddened the 
jealous love of her Divine Master; and she resolved to 
disengage her heart from it. For this three months of 
battle were necessary, so affectionate was she by nature. 
But in this point, as in all others, she triumphed; for 
neither repugnances nor sympathies were capable of 
daunting her courage. Nevertheless, although it is 
1 Memoire, p. 315. J Process, p. 71. 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 103 

customary at the Visitation for the profession to take 
place one year and one day after the date of reception, 
August 25, 1672, rolled by without Margaret Mary s 
having had the happiness of pronouncing her holy vows. 
"I have learned from many old Sisters," says one of 
the witnesses, " that her profession was deferred only on 
account of her extraordinary ways; for, as to the rest, 
they esteemed her a saint." " I have heard from the 
Superioress and mistress of novices, who conferred to 
gether about the Blessed One," says Sister Jeanne- 
Marie Contois, "that she would one day be a saint. 
But she was so extraordinary that perhaps she was not 
intended to live out her life at the Visitation." 2 " Mar 
garet Mary," says a third witness, " was an example of 
fervor. All had an excellent opinion of her, though 
all did not approve her extraordinary ways." : " The 
Blessed One," says a fourth witness, " was astonish 
ingly fervent during her novitiate. But her extra 
ordinary ways made us fear." 4 All the Sisters spoke in 
like manner. They reveal to us the very just pre 
cautions taken by the monastery in which suddenly 
appeared one of the rarest phenomena of sanctity: an 
humble girl whose life was already in heaven, who was 
everywhere accompanied by the visible presence of God ; 
who in the midst of her Sisters was wholly absorbed, 
her eyes suffused with tears; her countenance now 
sparkling like a star, or cast down as if in utter annihila 
tion; admirably obedient, and yet incapable of obedi 
ence; avaricious of extraordinary penances, and so 
eager for suffering that her Superiors knew neither how 
to moderate nor how to satisfy her. Assuredly, if any 
convent would have hesitated, for the chances of error 
are great in things so delicate, how much more the Visi 
tation, to which St. Francis de Sales so much recom 
mended humility, simplicity, love of the hidden life, and 

1 Process, p. 70. 2 Ibid., p. 68. 

3 Ibid., p. 72. < jbid., p 73< 

MONTREAL FREE LIBRAP- 

BLEURY STREKT, 



IO4 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

in which he had supplicated the Sisters to conform 
simply and purely to the Rule with no innovations! 
One day, after his holy Mass, he knelt with St. Chantal 
at the foot of the altar, and both supplicated God never 
to send to the Visitation any extraordinary grace. 
Thus the idea gradually took possession of the Order 
that the Visitation was not called to brilliant gifts; that 
it was to live hidden and obscure, like an humble little 
violet, and leave to others exceptional favors and great 
missions. Such thoughts as these gave rise to their de 
lay in allowing Margaret Mary to pronounce her vows; 
but, on the other hand, when they fixed their eyes upon 
her, why were they not reassured ? Had there ever 
been a vocation more supernatural, more disinterested ? 
Who but God had led Margaret to the Visitation, of 
which she knew nothing? Who enabled her to over 
come every obstacle ? If God willed to make this gift 
to the Visitation, why should the Visitation refuse it? 
The Spirit breatheth where it will. Love is the master. 
And already what signs that the Spirit breathing on 
Margaret was truly the Spirit of God, and that she was 
conducted by His divine love! 

Finally they decided, and after three months reflec 
tion she entered her great retreat, October 27, 1672, to 
prepare for her holy vows. What pen could portray 
Margaret s silence, recollection, profound union with 
the Lord during this blessed time? From the second 
day, abstraction became such that, in order to moderate 
a little the intensity of the love that consumed her, 1 the 
Superioress sent her into the field to mind an ass and 
its foal which had been purchased for the use of a sick 
Sister. Orders were given the holy novice to see that 
the animals did not enter the kitchen-garden by which 
the field was surrounded, and that the enclosure was 
protected. Margaret, in consequence, passed the day 
in running now after the ass, now after the foal, both 
1 Contemp., p. 37, note. 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 105 

strongly tempted by the garden-herbs. The fervent nov 
ice would unquestionably have much preferred being 
on her knees at the foot of the holy altar; but she was 
where God wished her to be, and what more could she 
desire? "If," said she simply, " Saul found the king 
dom of Israel when seeking his father s asses, why 
should I not obtain the kingdom of heaven while run 
ning after these animals?" She did, indeed, find it; for 
it was in this place, in the midst of these humble occu 
pations, that, kneeling in a little cluster of hazel-nut 
trees which have survived the wreck of time ! and which 
are still pointed out to the pilgrim, that she received 
one of the greatest favors of her life. She has, however, 
given it to us in terms too brief and, above all, too ob 
scure. " I was so contented in this occupation," she 
said, " and my Sovereign kept me such faithful company, 
that the running did not disturb me. It was whilst 
thus employed that I received favors greater than I had 
ever before experienced. It was then that He made 
known to me particulars of His holy Passion and death 
never before communicated to me. But to write them 
would be interminable. Their number makes me sup 
press all. I shall only say that it was this communica 
tion that filled me with such love for the cross that I 
cannot live one moment without suffering. But this 
suffering must be in silence, without relief, consolation, 
or compassion. I long to die with the Sovereign of my 
soul, overwhelmed by crosses of all kinds, by oppro 
brium, forgetfulness, humiliation, and contempt. 2 

The end of this retreat corresponded to its com 
mencement. Never did greater delights inebriate a 
soul. Margaret Mary knew all the sweetness of love, 
the most tender, most ardent, most divinely consoling. 

1 This cluster still exists. On the enormous roots that support it are 
nourished the strong green branches. Their leaves are distributed to 
pilgrims. 

2 Memoire, p. 322. 



io6 Life of Blessed Margaret ilfary Alacoque. 

All was, however, mingled with the assurance of future 
crosses that would equal in bitterness the sweetness she 
had just tasted from the divine caresses. 

At last, November 6, 1672, in the present chapel of the 
convent of Paray, at the grate still in existence, Mar 
garet Mary pronounced her holy vows. The details left 
us of this ceremony are as meagre as those of her takinq 
the habit. But better than these, we know perfectly the 
sentiments that filled her heart, and the graces with 
which she was inundated. The Lord appeared to her 
and said: "Up to this moment I have been only thy 
Fiance. I shall henceforth be thy Spouse." He prom 
ised never to leave her, but to treat her as His spouse, 
which promise He began at once to fulfil "in a man 
ner," she says, " that I feel incapable of expressing, and 
of which I shall only say that He spoke to me and 
treated me as a spouse of Tabor." 1 Margaret, touched 
to the depths of her soul, in a transport of love wrote 
with her blood a total consecration of herself to the 
Lord. This act concludes in words that recall the sub 
lime cry of St. Teresa or of St. Catharine of Siena: 

" All in God, and nothing in self! 
All to God, and nothing to self! 
All for God, and nothing for self!" 

She subscribed herself: " His unworthy spouse, SisUjv 
Margaret Mary, dead to the world." 2 

1 Memoire, p. 318. 

2 "We must here express a deep regret. That sacred relic of th& 
soul and the blood of Blessed Margaret Mary is probably lost forever. 
It was in the possession of the worthy Mother Baudron, Superioress 
of the hospital of Paray, at the beginning of the Revolution. She 
knew well its value, and refused to part with it even for one instant. 
She consented to lend it only on the entreaty of an aged confessor of 
the faith, M. 1 Abbe Jean Gaudin, cur6 of Vaudebarrier, arch-priest of 
Charolles. He asked for it in the same spirit that led St. Hugh when 
dying to have exposed at his bedside the relics of St. Marcel, pope 
and martyr. M. Gaudin died in the odor of sanctity, but what has be- 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 107 

We must recall those words of hers just read above, 
that we may comprehend the true beauty of the voca 
tion given her by God. In the day of her youth the 
Lord had said to her : " I shall be to thee the most beau 
tiful, the richest, most powerful, most perfect of all lov 
ers." ] On the day of her entrance to the novitiate, He 
added: " This is the day of our betrothal." 2 Now there 
is only one step more. "Until this time I have been 
thy Fiance; from this day I wish to be thy Spouse.." 
This is the whole religious life; for in the cloister as in the 
world, "It is not good for man to live alone." God, who 
has made us for an infinite love, has placed in us its hid 
den sources. At six years it begins to spring or gush 
deeply and tenderly. We go out of ourselves to find 
some soul in sympathy with our own. Noble emotion, 
given by God and worthy of Him, whence are born 
family ties with all its joys! But in the multitude of 
souls devoured by the want of human sympathy, who 
are they that look above the earth ? Human hearts are 
not deep enough for them, human love not sufficiently 
strong nor beautiful. They have scarcely seen the 
world, and yet they despise it. They have not yet 
tasted the cup of love, and still they put it far from 
them. Not that they are destitute of sensibility and ten 
derness; on the contrary, no heart is so insatiable as 
theirs; but not for created things they yearn beaming 
and radiant they fly to offer their heart to Jesus Christ. 
Twenty times I have had this sight under my eyes. I 
have seen girls, young and charming, tearing themselves 
from the embraces of father and mother, abandoning at 
twenty the hopes and illusions of life; and it was from 
the greatness of their emotion at parting, the keen ten 
derness of their adieux, that I discovered the beauty of 

come of the sacred blood whose presence enabled him to die so well ?" 
(Histoire Populaire de la Bienheureuse, par M. 1 Abbe Cucherat, al 
moner of the hospital of Paray, p. 84.) 
1 Memoire, p. 305. 5 Ibid., p. 314. 



io8 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

their heart and the power of the attraction that drew 
them. Three or four months pass, and behold, they 
reappear at the choir-grate for the sweet ceremony of 
the taking of the habit. Look at them! No tears dim 
their eyes. Arrayed as young brides, ornamented with 
jewels arid diamonds that they accept for one instant 
for the pleasure of casting them off publicly and tramp 
ling them under foot, their brow bespeaks serenity so 
pious and so divine that I have never seen its like in an 
earthly union. They know to whom they give them 
selves! And when, after twelve months of a second and 
definite trial, they reappear at \\\z grille for the last time, 
to pronounce the irrevocable vows; when their voices 
are raised in the silence of the holy assembly to say: 
" O ye heavens, hear what I say, and let the earth listen to 
the words of my mouth ! It is to Thee, my Jesus, that my 
heart speaketh /" it is not only joy, it is enthusiasm that 
makes their heart beat, and that betrays in the tremu 
lous tones of their voice the divine passion that con 
sumes them. 

But who, then, is this Being, dead on a gibbet more 
than eighteen hundred years, and who still excites such 
enthusiasm ? Who is this invisible Lover hidden from 
all eyes, who every day snatches from our side and from 
our very heart beings the dearest, the purest, the most 
charming, the most suited to enchant and console our 
life? Who is He ? It is He who said to Margaret at 
the age of twenty: "I shall be to thee the most tender 
of lovers;" who said to her on the day of taking the 
habit: " This is the day of our betrothal;" who at her 
profession added: "Till now I have been thy Fiance; 
henceforth I wish to be thy Spouse." He, in fine, who 
made such promises is alone able to accomplish them. 
Whilst human loves perish one by one; whilst flowery 
wreaths fade on the brow of the young bride; whilst all 
other love deceives, because, alas! it promises more than 
it can give, and thus an inevitable melancholy tinges 



Her Novitiate and her Profession. 109 

every earthly union, Jesus Christ, on the contrary, 
throws around souls consecrated to Him a charm that 
is incessantly renewed. Young, intrepid, and valiant 
hearts that have left all for Him, that can no more de 
tach themselves from Him, He unites to Himself by 
sorrow as well as by joy; and, as He is a crucified 
Spouse, whether He inebriates with consolations or 
overwhelms with sufferings, He rejoices them all the 
same. 



I IO Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER VI. 

FINAL EXTERIOR PREPARATIONS. LAST FINISHING 
STROKE WITHIN. 

November 6, 1672 December 27, 1673. 

" Ego dormio, et cor meurn vigilat." 

" I sleep, but my heart watcheth. " Cant. v. 2. 

" Satiabor cum apparuerit." 

" I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear." Psalm xvi. 15. 

HE year following the profession of Sister Mar. 
garet Mary resembled the first days of spring 
time when, after a long and silent preparation, 
nature suddenly bursts forth perfumed and blossomed 
under the influence of a genial dew. Thus it was in the 
soul of our saintly professed. From the day of her sol 
emn vows, so rapid was her increase in virtue that the 
whole community was astonished and touched. The 
rapidity of this progress was understood later, for only 
some months then separated us from the grand revela 
tions of the Sacred Heart. But before that moment it was 
easy for observant minds to see with what delicacy God 
was preparing all things, that when He should speak 
His voice might be heard. The day after the Ascension, 
1672, four or five months before Margaret Mary s pro 
fession, the venerable Mother Hersant, having completed 
her six years of government, was recalled to Paris. She 
had not definitively decided Margaret s vocation, though 
she had given her the habit and declared that she would 
some day attain extraordinary sanctity. She was re 
placed by Mother Marie-Frangoise de Saumaise, whom 
God had chosen to be the first confidant of His intimate 



Final Exterior Preparations. 1 1 1 

communications to our saint. Born at Dijon, in 1620, 
she was at this time fifty-two years old. Descended 
from an old parliamentary family, she had inherited 
their distinguished manners and solid judgment. The 
latter was remarked even in her early childhood by 
the venerable Mother de Chantal, who predicted that 
she would some day be one of the best Superioresses of 
the Order. Though never having exercised that charge, 
she arrived at Paray marvellously well prepared to fulfil 
it. She was possessed of good judgment and great 
decision of character. With a just mind, firm and 
clear, she was full of ardor, tempered, however, by ex 
ceeding kindness and the rarest modesty. To these 
qualities she added a perfect knowledge of the Visitan- 
dine Rules, and one not less profound of God s workings 
in souls. To acquire the first science she had been in a 
grand school, that of the venerable Mother Brulard, 
Superioress of Dijon. She belonged to the old parlia 
mentary family of Brulards, in which honor and justice, 
talent and business qualifications were hereditary with 
virtue. 1 And, as to the second science, she had ac 
quired it at a still higher school, one altogether in 
comparable that of Mother Anne-Seraphine Boulier, 
Superioress of Dijon, who has left on prayer and the 
love of God pages truly sublime, which disavow not 
her claims to being countrywoman of Bossuet. 2 Thus 
prepared by that tender and delicate hand which does 

1 Annales du Monastere de la Visitation de Dijon, published by 
M. 1 abbe Colet, Vicar-General of Dijon (present Bishop of Lugon), 
Dijon, 1854, chap. xvii. and following. Mother Brulard s grandmother 
was that Mme. Brulard, wife of the first President of the Parliament of 
Bourgogne, who was the intimate friend of Mme. de Chantal, and one 
of the dearest spiritual daughters of St. Francis de Sales. 

2 Vie de la Venerable Mere Anne-Seraphine Boulier, died Superi 
oress of the Visitation of Dijon, Sept. i, 1683. Mgr. Colet has given 
this Life in the continuation of the Annales, p. 271. He has also given 
those pages of profound mysticism known under the name of " Avis 
de la Venerable Mere Anne-Seraphine Boulier," Annales, p. 393. 



M2 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

all with sweetness and strength, Mother de Saumaise 
had hardly crossed the threshold of the convent of 
Paray when her eyes were fixed on this humble and fer 
vent novice, tlien in the eighteenth month of her novi 
tiate, and whose extraordinary ways made her the sub 
ject of so much inquietude. Mother de Saumaise was 
not slow to recognize in Margaret Mary the character 
istics of the Spirit of God, and it was she who decided 
her admission to the holy profession of vows. She first 
took a precaution which most significantly reveals her 
prudence and faith. Margaret, distressed at the hesita 
tion of the community, breathed out her sorrow at the 
feet of her Divine Master, and said to Him: " Ah, Lord, 
Thou wilt, then, be the cause of my being sent away!" 
The Lord reassured her, and charged her to say to her 
Superioress not to fear. Motherde Saumaise, animated 
with holy confidence, replied: "Very well; ask the Lord 
as an evidence of His promise to render you useful to 
the community by the practice of all our Rules. The 
Lord answered that she would be useful to the commun 
ity in a way they should see later on. And laying down 
Himself the great law that preserves from all illusion, 
He promised to adjust His favors to the spirit of the 
Rules and the judgment of Superiors, to whom He 
wished her to be submissive in all things. 1 We are now 
to see Mother Saumaise directing our saint in the midst 
of her perplexities and trials; recognizing the truth of 
her revelations; and later, when she shall have left 
Paray, propagating everywhere devotion to the Sacred 
Heart, of which she was the first confidant, the first to 
acknowledge its divine origin. 

But great and providential as it was to be raised into 
regions so high by the support sent her by God in 
Mother de Saumaise, this support could not suffice. It 
is not to virgins even the purest, the most enlightened, 
that God has given the gift of discerning His ways and 
1 Mmoire, p. 317. 



Final Exterior Preparations. 1 1 3 

supernatural missions in His Church. This gift belongs 
to those to whom Jesus Christ has said: "Go teach all 
nations." Priests teach under the direction of bishops; 
bishops, subject to that of the Pope; and the Pope 
teaches under the infallible guidance of the Spirit of 
God. Explain the Scriptures, scrutinize public prophe 
cies and private revelations, and let all baptized souls 
render you, in the limits of the holy hierarchy, the 
obedience due to Jesus Christ. Such is the divine con 
stitution of the Church. Consequently, after having 
placed near the humble Margaret a virgin enlightened 
by God, to console, sustain, and guide, to serve her as 
a mother and confidant, it was further necessary to ap 
point a priest, to say to her at the destined hour the 
word that calms doubts and unerringly points out the 
way. 

Such a priest God chose from the Society of Jesus. 
He desired by this to recompense that valiant Society 
for services rendered the Church in the midst of the 
great conflict of the sixteenth century, when it had by 
its illustrious founder, his first and heroic disciples, and 
its grand theologians, so powerfully contributed to the 
arrest of heresy and the vindication of the faith. Per 
haps by this most delicate attention God willed to 
thank the Society for the position it assumed in the 
seventeenth century in the terrible struggle begun by 
incipient Jansenism against the Church. Without weak 
ening the respect due to the infinite majesty of God, 
the Jesuits ceased not to exalt His goodness, His ten 
derness for sinners, His infinite love. Even if it were 
true, in view of that haughty rigorism which cast souls 
into despair, that some of the members of this illustrious 
Society, by one of those reactions that cannot be con 
trolled, should have leaned a little too much toward the 
opposite side and rendered the road to heaven a little 
too easy, it must at least be admitted that they did it 
1 St. Matt, xxviii. 19. 



1 14 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

not to their own profit. Whilst preaching moral sweet 
ness, t.iey rigorously preserved among themselves moral 
severity; and neither the proximity of courts, the favor 
of the great, nor the wealth flowing in upon them from 
the gratitude of the people, was ever able to tarnish the 
purity of morals or the amiable austerity and generous 
fervor of the Society. Let us add that as the price of 
so many services, to recompense them for having reared 
the youth of all Europe, for having civilized Paraguay, 
evangelized Japan, shed their blood on thousands of in 
hospitable regions, enriched civilization by a multitude 
of curious discoveries, and, what is much better, em 
balmed the world with the perfume of every virtue, the 
Society of Jesus was to be persecuted and disgraced, 
its most venerable members cast into prison or sent 
into exile. It was only just, therefore, that God should 
give it under circumstances so critical not only support 
and consolation, but above all, a public sign of His love. 
For reasons such as these, the priest charged to recog 
nize and proclaim to the world the truth of the revela 
tions of the Sacred Heart was taken from the Society 
of Jesus. 

He was called Claude de la Colombiere, and even 
then his name was not without glory. His appearance 
in the pulpit was remarkable. One felt on beholding 
him that, though fitted to shine in the world, he was 
one of those refined natures, a being innocent and pure, 
whom nothing human or vulgar could ever captivate. 
His distinguished manners, his charming conversation, 
his mind lively and polished by nature, his address and 
grace under every circumstance, added to the correct 
ness of his judgment, were surpassed only, by his aus 
terity and virtue. Born in 1641, he was at this time 
thirty-two years old ; and, though still so young, had 
just been called by his Superiors to pronounce his last 
vows. To those demanded of religious by the Church 
he added a fourth sufficient to frighten the most fervent. 



Final Exterior Preparations. 1 1 5 

We have the twenty-two articles written by his own 
hand ; and we know not if there ever was any one who 
vowed to attain perfection so eminent. 1 At the close of 
his great retreat, he was appointed Superior, with resi 
dence at Paray. He arrived there at the time in which 
the third of the three grand revelations of the Sacred 
Heart took place, that which was to be the last in the 
cycle of those solemn entertainments. 

Whilst God was thus preparing the support of which 
Margaret was soon to have need, H*e was also putting 
the finishing stroke to her own soul. Her novitiate was 
passed in joy and consolation so great that, in her ina 
bility to sustain them, she cried out: "O my God, 
diminish Thy favors or increase my power to receive 
them !" Delights continuing to inundate her soul after 
her profession, she began to be astonished and disquieted. 
She had espoused a crucified God, annihilated, humili 
ated, buffeted, and she wished none other. She com 
plained to the Lord, saying : " Ah ! my God, Thou wilt 
never, then, permit me to suffer !" Then was witnessed 
the beginning of a singular contest between her and her 
Spouse. He desired to overwhelm her with loving 
caresses and consolations. She desired only sorrow, 
contempt, and humiliation, and that so ardently that 
the Lord is forced to yield. He withdrew, but slowly, 
little by little, like a conquered general skilfully retreat 
ing. Once, when He loaded her with the delights of 
Tabor, which, on account of the want of conformity to 
her wounded and crucified spouse on Calvary, were 
more painful to her than death, He said to her interiorly : 
" Let Me do it ! Everything in its own time. Now, 

1 Sermons of P. Claude de la Colombiere, third edition, 1689. This 
preface, slightly oratorical, and containing few precise details, is, 
however, all that we have of Father de la Colombiere. How much it 
is to be regretted that nearly two hundred years have rolled around 
Without the written Life of this great servant of God! 



1 1 6 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Acacoque. 

My love wishes to amuse itself with thee as it pleases. 
But thou wilt lose nothing by it." 

On another occasion, urged by Her importunity, He 
said to her : " Have a little patience ; later I shall make 
thee experience what thou must suffer for My love." a 

O adorable goodness of the Lord ! He could not 
resolve to begin the crucifixion of His spouse. One 
day she conjured Him never to make anything known 
about her, unless to humble her before creatures and 
destroy their esteem for her. For alas ! my God," she 
said, " I feel my weakness, and I fear to betray Thee." 
" Fear nothing," was the reply. " I shall be thy Pro 
tector." " What ! Lord, wilt Thou, then, always let me 
live without suffering?" she cried. Then Jesus showed 
her a cross covered with flowers. " Behold !" He said, 
"the bed of my chaste spouses on which I shall make 
thee consummate the delights of My love. One by one 
these flowers will fade, and naught will remain but the 
thorns they now hide from thy weakness. But thou 
wilt feel their points so keenly that all the strength of 
My love will be needed by thee to enable thee to ac 
complish thy martyrdom." 

One involuntarily pauses before this vivid and start 
ling picture of life. A bed of thorns covered for a few 
moments with flowers. The flowers fade, the dream 
vanishes, the illusion disappears, and nothing remains 
but points so sharp, so piercing, so penetrating, that 
God alone can nerve to the endurance of their pain. 
But whilst we weep and groan, Margaret Mary trem 
bled with joy. Jesus words rejoiced her, for she had 
feared never to have sufferings enough to satisfy the 
burning thirst for them that gave her no rest by night 
or by day. 4 

The Lord generously multiplied His promises, and 
assured her that the hour was not far distant in which 

1 Contemp., p. 39. 2 Ib., p. 44. 

a Memoire, p. 322* 4 Contemp., p. 45. 



Final Exterior Preparations. 1 1 7 

He would satiate her with suffering and humiliation. 
Nothing could satisfy the desire that tormented her. 
" It seemed to me," she wrote, " that I should never be at 
rest until I found myself unknown to all, and abyssed 
in humiliations and suffering ; until I should be lost 
in eternal oblivion, in which, if remembered at all, it 
would only be to be the more deeply despised. If, in 
truth, my Sisters knew the desire I have of being hum 
bled and despised, I doubt not that charity would in 
duce them to gratify me on this point." 

" I experience," she again said, " so strong a desire to 
suffer that I cannot find any sweeter rest than to feel 
myself inundated with pain, my mind the prey to all 
kinds of dereliction, and my whole being drowned in 
humiliations, contempt, and contradictions." 2 "Suffer 
ing alone can render life endurable to me," this is the 
cry that will henceforth be heard in all her letters. Its 
form of expression may, indeed, vary ; but in substance 
it will ever be the same. 

Her actions corresponded to her words. The plainest 
and coarsest food that could be found in the convent 
appeared to her too delicate for a sinner like herself; 
so she seasoned it with ashes to render it more unpala 
table. She deprived herself of every kind of beverage ; 
and at one time she took the resolution not to drink 
anything from Thursday until Saturday of every week. 
Reproved by her Superiors, and obliged by them to 
slake her thirst, she resorted to a thousand inventions 
to do so only with water tepid and unpleasant to the 
taste. At night she put planks in. her bed, and even 
strewed it with fragments of broken potsherds. "Had 
she been permitted," wrote her Superioress, Mother de 
Saumaise, a she would have martyrized her body with 
vigils, disciplines, and other mortifications, although 

1 Languet, Vie de la Venerable Soeur, p. 115. 
e Memoire, p. 336. 



1 1 8 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

during six whole years I saw her in the enjoyment of 
health for only five months." 

What shall we add ? That with which the dainty of 
the century have reproached the illustrious author of 
the " Life of St. Elizabeth," that with which they have 
reproached us in the " History of St. Chantal," it must 
be permitted us to relate here. And yet we warn 
fastidious souls that we have suppressed the half. Mar 
garet Mary s sole happiness was to kiss the wounds of 
the sick, and press her lips to the most disgusting 
ulcers. Once, in particular, when nursing a Sister dying 
with cancer of the stomach, and who could not retain 
anything upon it, she wished to clear away her vomit. 
She did it with her lips and tongue, saying to Jesus 
.Christ : "If I had a thousand bodies, a thousand loves, 
and a thousand lives, I should wish to sacrifice them all, 
in order to be Thy slave." " And," she added, " I found 
so much delight in this action that I longed for daily 
occasions to teach me to overcome myself in the same 
manner, and to have God alone for witness." 2 

Every day exhibited similar scenes, similar desires 
after humiliation and contempt, a thousand little strata 
gems to procure herself suffering, and extraordinary as 
pirations after the most frightful self-immolation. There 
were, according to her own expression, three tyrants 
inclosed within her heart, which gave her neither rest 
nor truce, which were never satisfied, and which inces 
santly urged li^r on to fresh exertions. The first was 
love of contempt ; the second, love of suffering ; the 
third, the sweetest, the most powerful, the most insati 
able, the least easily satisfied, was the love of Jesus 
Christ. "Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!" she cried in 
tones that expressed more than a lengthy sermon. 
" The longer I live, the more clearly I see that a life 
without the love of Jesus Christ is the misery of mis- 

1 Languet, Vie de la V6n6rable Soeur, p. 108, 
8 M6moire, p. 337. 



Final Exterior Preparations. \ \ 9 

eries. If to go to Jesus Christ I had to walk barefoot 
on a pathway of flames, it would seem to me nothing. 
After having received Jesus Christ, I remain as it were 
annihilated, but filled with joy so entrancing that some 
times for seven minutes my whole interior is hushed in 
profound silence, listening to the voice of Him whom I 
love." 

" I know not whether I deceive myself," she again 
wrote, " for one grows not weary of hearing the accents 
of this Divine Voice, so strong, so heroic, so elevated 
above our weakness and human impotence. It seems 
to me that my pleasure would be to love my amiable 
Saviour with a love as ardent as that of the seraphim. 
But I should not be grieved even were it in hell that I 
loved Him. The thought that there could be a place in 
the universe in which, for all eternity, an infinite num 
ber of souls, redeemed with the Precious Blood of Jesus 
Christ, would never love this amiable Redeemer, afflicts 
me deeply. I would wish, my Divine Saviour, if it were 
Thy will, to suffer all the torments of hell, provided I 
could love Thee as much as all souls, doomed ever to 
suffer and never to love, would have been able to love 
Thee in heaven." : 

The more one advances, the more this love of God 
consumes. Margaret s frail and delicate constitution 
could not resist such emotions. Thin and pale, the 
glowing ardor of her mind was visible through her 
transparent skin; she realized more perfectly the thren 
ody of her novitiate: 

"A chased and panting fawn, 
I seek the flowing stream. 
The hunter s flying dart 
Has pierced my inmost heart." 

Such was Margaret Mary in her twenty-fifth year, 
and such are all the saints. For us, for the greater part 

1 Contemp., p. 46. 

8 Languet, Vie de la Venerable Soeur, p. 95. 



1 20 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

of men, God is known and saluted from afar and but 
with difficulty. To some of us He is a friend; for 
very few, an intimate friend. But there are others for 
whom He is more than a friend, more than a father, 
more than a spouse. Their love for Him amounts to 
passion, yea, even to folly. This is a mystery the world 
does not understand; it laughs and scoffs: but what 
matters it ? 

Astonishing as it may be at all times to the witnesses 
of this stupendous life to see that ever-increasing desire 
after sufferings, that hungering after humiliations and 
contempt, that th.irsting after the love of God, there is 
something that will still more amaze ; namely, that 
state of entire absorption in God to which we have al 
ready alluded, and which will now strike the beholder 
with astonishment and admiration. In recreation, in 
the refectory, in the choir, Margaret s companions 
were constantly obliged to rouse her. She no longer 
lived on earth. Were she needed for anything, they 
never thought of seeking her in her cell. They ran to 
the chapel, for she now never left it. 1 There she passed 
entire hours, kneeling motionless, her hands joined, her 
eyes closed. She saw nothing, heard nothing; she did 
not even feel the Sisters tapping her on the shoulder. 
But at the sound of the word "obedience," she arose 
quickly, and did whatever they requested. 

Let us listen to the witnesses of these extraordinary 
scenes, and for an instant gaze upon the greatest con 
templative that has appeared in the Church since St. 
Teresa: 

"I attest," said Sister Marguerite d Athose, " to hav 
ing seen the venerable deceased pass almost the entire day, 
particularly Sundays and feasts, before the Blessed 
Sacrament, on her knees, immovable, in recollection so 
profound that the whole community was surprised that 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister Rosselin. 



Final Exterior Preparations. 1 2 i 

.she could remain so long in the same position, though 
her constitution was not the strongest." : 

" Having lived long years with the venerable Sister, 
I affirm," says Sister Claude-Rosalie de Farges, " that 
she was always the first at morning prayer. So rapt 
was her attention before the Blessed Sacrament that on 
feasts she never stirred almost the whole day, but re 
mained before it in an attitude of respect and abase 
ment that inspired the beholder with devotion." The 
deponent affirmed, also, that she had seen her from 
seven o clock, Holy Thursday evening, till four o clock the 
next morning on her knees, immovable ,.her hands joined 
on her breast; and that the Sisters who succeeded her 
(the deponent) beheld her in the same position until 
the Office. This gave cause to the deponent to say to 
Margaret : " My dear Sister, how can you remain 
kneeling so long?" To which Margaret answered: 
" At such times I do not even know that I have a 
body." 2 

Another deposition is still more explicit and curious, 
that of Sister Elizabeth de la Garde, Superioress of the 
convent of Paray. She entered the convent almost at 
the same time as the venerable Sister, and had been her 
companion of the novitiate. " I certify," she said, 
" that the venerable Sister was always most faithful to 
pass all her free time before the Blessed Sacrament, her 
hands joined in profound adoration. No movement on 
her part ever betrayed a wandering of mind. On feast- 
days,/^;;/ the time she rose until dinner, and from the end 
of the recreation till Vesper^ there she was in prayer. 
But on Holy Thursday, for several consecutive years, 
she passed from seven in the evening until the next morning 
kneeling in the same place, neither coughing nor mov 
ing." This led the deponent to notice Margaret Mary 
whilst she herself was in the choir, and commission 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister Marguerite d Athose, p. 67. 
8 Process of 1715, p. 69. 



122 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

others to do the same when she went to rest, that she 
might know whether Margaret preserved the same atti 
tude. The Sisters thus commissioned assured Mother 
Elizabeth that Sister Margaret Mary knelt in the same 
posture all night. 1 

What was then done by Mother de la Garde s orders 
was ever after continued during Margaret Mary s life. 
" One Holy Thursday night," says one of the witnesses, 
" we went from time to time to look at Margaret Mary 
through a half-open door of the choir. There she was 
kneeling, immovable, her hands joined on her breast, 
her countenance radiant. This lasted twelve hours without 
the slightest motion on her part"* " I have of ten watched 
her," says Sister Marie Rosalie de Lyonne, "and I once 
saw her myself kneeling from seven o clock in the evening 
till midnight, and others observed the same from midnight 
until the next morning at seven o clock. During all this 
time Margaret remained immovable on her knees, her 
hands joined." " Next day," continues the deponent, 
" having asked her how she could remain so long in the 
same posture, and of what she was thinking all that 
time, she replied : I am then so occupied with the 
Lord s Passion that I do not know that I have a body. 
I feel nothing. " 3 

It was not only the Sisters succeeding one another 
in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament who watched 
her through the half-open choir door, but the little 
boarders asked leave to rise during the night that they 
too might see " their saintly mistress praying to God 
so fervently." The Faithful, also, on days of Exposi 
tion flocked to peer through the choir grate and to point 
her out with the finger, saying: " Seethe saint!" But 
their notice had not the power to distract her. 5 

The Sisters of the Community carried their pious cu- 

1 Process, p. 72. 2 Ib. , p. 64. 

8 Ib., p. 66. Ib., p. 81. 

* Ib., p. 102. 



Final Exterior Preparations. .123 

riosity still further. They approached her, they spoke 
to her, they tapped her on the shoulder, but without 
obtaining a word of reply. " I attest," said Sister 
Jeanne-Francoise Chalon, " that I several times saw the 
servant of God in His holy presence before the Most 
Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I spoke to her without 
being able to draw a word of response from her. She 
was immovable as a marble statue, she was wholly rapt 
in God." 1 " I have heard my brother, the chaplain and 
confessor of the convent, say," deposed M. Claude 
Michou, an advocate of the parliament. " that when 
on her knees before the altar, Venerable Margaret Mary 
appeared ecstatic."" 

This word ecstasy will perhaps cause some to smile. 
But allow me to ask: Is there any love without contem 
plation, any ardent passion without ecstasy? What is 
the life of a mother during the first months of her 
child s life ? Is it other than a rapturous transport be 
fore the crib ? And what takes place around a death 
bed on which still rest the remains of a cherished being? 
The living regard the dead, they contemplate the re 
mains, they forget themselves. Are they seated or on 
their knees during this contemplation ? How long has 
it lasted ? Who can say ? The more they love, the less 
they know. 

This is what Blessed Margaret Mary did during those 
long nights. Twelve consecutive hours on her knees, 
her hands joined on her breast, her eyes closed, without 
coughing or moving, like a marble statue, like an ecs- 
tatica! She loved, and in loving she forgot herself! 

Only one thing could recall her to earth, and that 
was the word obedience. At that word she became 
conscious, bowed sweetly to the altar, and rose to 
go whither obedience called. " I affirm," says Sister 
Frangoise-Rosalie Verchere, " that I have seen her 
tor entire hours in prayer, and so rapt that I have 
1 Process of 1715, p. 106. Ib., p. 87. 



1 24 -Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

approached without being able to distract her. But at 
the least sign of pbedience she left all to respond to it." 
Said witness confessed to having told her once as if 
coming from the Superioress, though in fact it was of 
witness own suggesting and merely to see whether 
Margaret Mary would leave her prayer or not, to go 
warm herself. On the instant she set off to obey. 1 "I 
remember," says Mother Elizabeth de la Garde, "that 
once, wishing to make a trial of the obedience of the 
servant of God, I sent a Sister to whisper in her ear: 
f Sister, Mother says go and warm yourself. It was 
Holy Thursday night, and very cold, and she had asked 
permission to remain. But immediately Margaret Mary 
made her genuflection, withdrew, and went to the fire 
for a quarter of an hour. On coming back, she resumed 
her place in the choir till Prime of the next day, just 
seven hours." a 

Extraordinary as was Margaret Mary s immobility 
during twelve consecutive hours notwithstanding the 
cold of the night, it was not the most astonishing fea 
ture in her wonderful life. At times, whilst thus kneel 
ing in the choir, she suddenly fainted, and had to be 
borne out trembling and radiant, her countenance on 
fire, her eyes suffused with tears. To the questions put to 
her she could answer nothing, nor was she able to sup 
port herself. Once they found her thus extended in the 
choir, torrents of tears flowing softly and uninterrupt 
edly from her eyes. 3 On another occasion she said: 
"I neither felt nor knew where I w r as. When they came 
to take me away, seeing that I could not answer nor 
support myself without great difficulty, they led me 
to our Mother. I was quite out of myself; I trembled 
and seemed to be consumed by fever. They thought I 
would die." 4 

It was repeated scenes like this that astonished and 

1 Process of 1715, p. 52. 2 Ib., p. 72. 

8 MSmoire, p. 327. 4 Ib., P 328 



Final Exterior Preparations. 125 

alarmed the Sisters, inspired some with tender pity 
and respect, others with admiration and enthusiasm, 
and caused all to say: " What can it be? What passes 
between God and this soul during those long hours? 
Is it an illusion ? or is it God acting in her ? If so, for 
what end ?" 

We now know the answer to all these questions. 
Obedience unsealed the lips of the humble virgin, and 
the Church has authenticated her words. Guided by 
this authority, let us penetrate without fear of decep 
tion into the secret of her raptures, and contemplate 
their beauty, 

But first we must collect them. We must do like the 
pilgrim on approaching Jerusalem^ He hears his guide 
suddenly cry out: " El Cods! LaSainte!" Deeply moved, 
he pauses, kneels, and adores before presuming to rest 
his eyes on that city in which appeared the Word made 
flesh, on that hill upon which expired Infinite Love! 



1 26 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 




CHAPTER VII. 

THE AURORA OF THE DEVOTION TO THE SACRED 
HEART. 

"Quasi aurora consurgens." 
" As the morning rising." Cant. vi. 9. 
" Omnia in mensura, et numero, et pondere disposuisti." 
" Lord, Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and 
weight." Wisdom xi. 21. 

OD had taken three-and-twenty years to prepare 
the heart of Blessed Margaret Mary for the pro 
digious marvel whose secret He was about to 
confide to her; but He was going to employ still more 
time in preparing the world to understand that wonder 
and to accept it. All beautiful things here below have 
an aurora that precedes and announces them, that turns 
toward them all eyes and hearts. The devotion whose 
.history we are going to relate had its rosy dawn, and 
the time has come to portray it. 

Can we imagine the Church existing seventeen hun 
dred years without a thought of the Adorable Heart of 
her Divine Spouse? Can we fancy her innumerable 
virgins, so inflamed with love for Jesus, never craving 
the happiness of St. John, the happiness of reposing on 
the breast of the Divine Master? Did none of her Doc 
tors ever contemplate that pierced side whence flowed 
he wonderful mixture of blood and water ? If it be true 
that our forefathers believed as we that the heart is the 
seat of love; if all nations have guarded with respect 
and carried in triumph the hearts of their deceased 
heroes, how admit that those far-off Christian ages, so 



Aurora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 127 

filled with enthusiasm for the person of the Saviour, 
cast no glance, breathed no prayer toward His Sacred 
Heart, the most beautiful, most noble, most tender, the 
purest and greatest of all hearts ? 

Far up through past centuries, off in the catacombs 
of Rome or Lyons, in those remote ages whose writings 
are rare, whose chiselled marble and frescoed walls 
form the annals of their Christian generations, we behold 
the devout gaze fixed upon the pierced side of the Sav 
iour, on the stream of love flowing from it, and the 
Heart that forms, its source. When, at Lyons, the young 
deacon Sanctus appeared before his executioners and 
astonished them by the firmness of his heroic courage, 
the historian of his martyrdom asked how he could 
endure fire and sword and other most atrocious tor 
ments. Sanctus had but one answer: " It was," said he, 
"because the holy deacon was sprinkled and strength 
ened by the source of living water gushing from the 
Heart of Christ." 1 There was recently discovered in 
the cemetery of the Via Strata, at Autun, a Greek inscrip 
tion placed in the second century on the tomb of a 
Christian. With the confession of the Divinity of Christ, 
with the names of Saviour, Jesus, Redeemer, we find in 
it special mention of the Adorable Heart, toward which, 
even as early as the second century, souls turned for 
the gifts of faith and hope and love. 2 From those far- 
off ages, of which we have so few memorials, we pass to 
those of the Doctors, the brightening aurora of the 
Church, and find Tertullian contemplating the pierced 
side of the Saviour and reading therein the title of our 
vocation and election to salvation. 3 It was St. Cyprian 
who passed before the singular mixture of blood and 

1 Eusebe, Lettre des Martyrs de Lyon. 

* Card. Pitra, Spicil. Solesm., torn. i. p. 554. 

3 Tertull. De Baptismo, cap. xvi., et De Anima, c. xliii. " Somnus 
Adae mors erat Christ! dormituri in mortem, ut de injuria perinde lateris 
ejus, vera mater viventium figuraretur Ecclesia." 



128 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

water flowing from the wounded breast of the Christ, 
and from it saw the Church springing forth in radiant 
beauty. 1 It was St. Ambrose who immortalized this 
divine wound through which the Saviour s graces 
have flowed upon and embalmed the world, like those 
odoriferous plants that emit their perfume only when 
wounded. 2 It was, above all, St. Augustine who, by the 
tenderness and heavenly elevation of his soul, was so 
capable of understanding the mysteries of the Heart of 
Jesus. "Oh!" he cried, " of what a perfect word the 
Evangelist made use when he said: One of the soldiers 
opened His side with his lance He does not say, * His 
side was struck ; he says, * His side was opened ; that is to 
say, the door of life was opened to allow the sacraments 
and all other graces to flow upon the world. " ! Under 
a thousand forms the saint develops the sublime doc 
trine that from the wounded side of Jesus Christ the 
Church was born and the sacraments came forth. From 
it beams light upon souls, and from it issues love. The 
Heart of Jesus, he tells us, ought to be the special asy 
lum, the refuge of all in need of consolation, strength, 
or pardon. " Consider, O man," he says, speaking in 
the person of the Lord, "how much I have suffered for 
you. My head was crowned with thorns, My feet and 
hands pierced, My blood shed. I have opened My side 
to you and given you to drink the precious blood that 
flows from it! What more can you desire ?" " Approach, 
then," continues the holy Doctor, "this fountain of liv 
ing water, of which He will give us the water of salva 
tion without money and without price. He invites us to 
come and draw: If any man thirsts let him come to Me. 4 

1 Cyprian, De mont, Sinae et Sion. " Percussus de lancea, sanguis 
ex aqua mixtus profluebat, unde sibi Ecclesiam sanctam fabricavit in 
qua legem passionis suae consecrabat, dicente ipso: Qui sitit, veniat et 
bibat." 

a Ambros. Serm. m. in Psalm xxviii. et cxviii. 

3 Aug. Tract, cxx. in Joan. 

4 St. John, vii. 37. 



Atirora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 1 29 

Behold the purest of fountains gushing up in the midst 
of paradise and watering the whole earth." ] In these 
words of St. Augustine, we hear St. John Chrysostom, 
St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzen, St. Ephrem, St. 
Cyril, and other Fathers of the fourth century. 2 

Deeply impressed with this doctrine, artists of the first 
centuries impressively depicted it to the eye, when they 
represented Jesus on the cross. His side presents a 
gaping wound, from which gushes an impetuous tor 
rent of blood ; and at the foot of the cross stands the 
Church collecting the precious blood in a chalice. 3 
Sometimes, to gi,ve the Blessed Virgin the first place 
near the dying Saviour, they depict the Church in a 
kneeling or half-sitting posture, and holding the chalice 
in the direction of the open side. Most frequently, 
however, she is standing nimbus-crowned, her standard 
in her hand. Farther back in the picture are seen the 
Blessed Virgin and St. John standing and in tears, 
though the Church weeps not. In her eagerness to 
catch the precious stream, whence she draws her exist 
ence, she holds up her chalice as high as possible so as 
not to lose one drop. 4 No description can convey to 
him who has not studied these old paintings the enthu 
siasm with which the Church contemplates the wound 
of the Heart from which she came forth as Eve from 
the open side of Adam. 5 Thus it was that for centuries 

1 Aug. De Symbolo ad catechum., vi. , in Psalm 1. 

2 If some scholar well versed in Greek and in Latin patristic lore 
would make a collection from age to age of all that the Fathers have 
said upon the Sacred Heart, he would be of eminent use to the Church 
in our day. 

8 See, in particular (Melanges d archeologie, par le P. Chas. Cahier), 
an ivory crucifix sculptured after the model belonging to M. Carraud. 
The blood flows in a stream upon a large cloth. 

4 See, among others, the crucifix of Cividale del Frinli (Gori, The- 
saur. Diptych., torn. iii. p. 321. 

6 Crucifix of Bamberg (Biblioth. of Munich). It belonged to the 
Emperor St. Henry. Nothing is more admirable than the ardor with 



130 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

the first and fondest regards of all Christians were fixed 
on the wounded side of their Saviour. 

But let us leave these far-off times and enter the 
epoch of the great Doctors of the Middle Ages. What 
progress ! They contemplate not only the pierced side, 
for, passing through it, they catch a glimpse of the Heart 
of burning love, and to it offer their adoration. "Thy 
Heart has been wounded," exclaims St. Bernard, " that 
the visible wound may reveal to us the invisible one of 
love. For who would allow his heart to be wounded if 
love had not already attracted it ? But also who would 
not seek, who would not love, a hear thus wounded ?" 

Elsewhere he explains this text: " My dove in the 
clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall;" and 
shows that the clefts of the rock are the wounds of Jesus 
Christ, above all that of the side through which may 
be seen His Heart. " Oh !" he cries out, " how good 
and how sweet to dwell in this Heart ! Precious treas 
ure, rare pearl that Thy Heart, O good Jesus, found in 
ploughing up the field of Thy body ! Who could reject 
this pearl beyond price ? Ah, I should rather give all 
to purchase it ! And there, in this temple, in this 
Holy of holies, in that sacred ark, I shall live, I shall 
praise, I shall adore! O Jesus! draw me into Thy 
Sacred Heart; and that I may dwell there, wash me 
from my iniquities, purify me from every stain. O 
most beautiful of the children of men, Thy Sacred 
Heart has been opened only that we may be able to 
dwell in it in safety arid in peace." 3 

These and similar words constantly escaped the lips 
of St. Bernard. He filled the solitude of Citeaux and 
Clairvaux with them. It suffices to open the works of 
St. William, of St. Guerric and his principal disciples, to 

which the Church rose up to catch the divine blood, which not only 
flowed but poured out in streams. 

1 St. Bernard, Tract, de Passione, cap. iii. 



A ur or a of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 131 

be convinced of this. But he did not proclaim it in 
public. Did he find the world still too barbarous, too 
gross, to grasp this doctrine so delicate, so high? Or 
rather, had the hour not yet come for that star to rise on 
the world ? This is more probable. The period of 
which we speak was but the dawn of devotion to the 
Sacred Heart, whose sweet, strong light was to pene 
trate only some few chosen souls. 

We must not omit from the rank of those chosen ones 
a man whom the imagination cannot contemplate with 
out being inflamed with devotion to the Heart of Jesus. 
Look at that pale, emaciated, ecstatic figure on the rocks 
of Mt. Alvernia. On his forehead we read meekness, 
humility, tenderness, and peace. In his eyes burn a 
pure and brilliant flame which reveals his ardent love 
of God. The wounds of the Saviour s feet and hands 
are reproduced on his flesh, and he bears in his side the 
impress of the stroke of the lance that opened the side 
of Jesus ! Oh, who can depict his emotion when, on 
the summit of Alvernia, from the heart of the seraph 
that appeared to him darted those rays of fire and love 
to pierce his own heart ! Francis has written nothing. 
We have no word of his revealing the extent of his 
devotion to the Heart of Jesus. But all around him, 
among his most cherished disciples, there is .a trace of 
light more brilliant than that which surrounded St. 
Bernard. We shall quote St. Bonaventure. What light 
and what tenderness ! " Oh !" he cries out, " had I 
been the lance that pierced the Heart of Jesus, thinkest 
them that once having entered I should ever, ever have 
come forth ? No ! no ! I should have, remained therein. 
I should never have been able, I should never have 
desired, to leave that abode. I should have said: This 
is my rest forever and ever. Here will I dwell, for I 
have chosen it. " 

And, again: "O my soul! thy most sweet Saviour 
desires to take thee for spouse, to tell thee the secrets of 



132 Life of Blessed Alar gar et Mary Alacoque. 

His Heart; and delayest thou to flee to Him ? In the ex 
cess of His love He longed for the lance that opened 
His side, that He might prove to thee that He had given 
thee His Heart. Oh, didst thou know how sweet this 
Heart is ! Enter therein, and when thou shalt be in 
that most sweet Heart of Jesus, do thou close after thee 
the doors of His wounds, so that it may be impossible 
for thee ever to go forth. Thy heart will then be so 
inflamed with love that it will seem to thee that thou 
wouldst gladly escape from thy body to dwell in the 
wounds of Jesus Christ." " O most holy, most amiable, 
most sweet wounds of Jesus Christ ! One day I entered 
therein, I penetrated even to the most secret recesses of 
love. There inclosed on all sides, I knew not how to 
retrace my steps. Behold why I remain therein and 
rest forever. There I am all ardor, all love. There I 
enjoy without stint abundance of all riches ! O man, 
take my word ! If thou dost try to enter the Heart of 
the most sweet Saviour by the opening of His wounds, 
not only thy soul but thy body shall taste a sweetness 
most admirable." What more could one wish? The 
seraphic soul of Margaret Mary holds for us, concerning 
the honor of the Heart of Jesus, neither accents more 
tender nor teachings more explicit. 

With whatever discretion these holy Doctors environed 
themselves, and although, in general, they confined 
their teaching to the cloister, it was difficult for them 
to prevent some sparks from bursting forth. We begin, 
be sides, at this epoch to see even those bound to the 
world cultivating the habit of retiring from it and them 
selves, and making their dwelling in the pierced side of 
their Lord. Blessed Elzear, Comte d Arian, in Prov 
ence, having, says St. Francis de Sales, been long absent 
from his devout and chaste Delphina, she sent a mes 
senger to him to inquire expressly for his health. Be 
hold the reply she received: " I am very well, my dear 
1 Bonav. Stimulus amoris, pars i. cap. i. et vii. 



A ur or a of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 133 

wife; but if you wish to see me, seek me in the wound 
of the side of our sweet Jesus: for it is there that I 
dwell, and there you will find me. Elsewhere you will 
seek me in vain." This was a Christian chevalier indeed. 1 
Whilst this sweet aurora darted its beams on the silent 
solitudes of Clairvaux and Citeaux, on the fervent mon 
asteries of St. Francis of Assisi, and on some chosen souls 
in the midst of the world, it beamed brightly, also, in the 
erudite schools of St. Dominic. Listen to St. Thomas, the 
Angel of the Schools, who, seeking for marks of predes 
tination, found them in the assiduous contemplation of 
the pierced Heart of Jesus. 2 Hear Blessed Henry Suso, 
called the Ecstatic Doctor on account of the sublimity of 
his contemplation: " O Jesus! remember the cruel lance 
that wounded Thy side and pierced Thy Heart! That 
Heart, wounded and opened for us, is become to us, O 
Jesus, a fountain of living water!" : Listen to John 
Tauler, surnamed the Sublime Theologian, who, medi 
tating on the Passion of the Saviour and contemplating 
the wound of His Heart, exclaims: "What more could 
He do? He has opened His own Heart for us to enter. 
He has given us this Sacred Heart cruelly wounded as 
our dwelling-place, so that, being purified therein and 
having acquired perfect conformity with it, we may be 
worthy of being received with Him in heaven." In 
fine, all the theologians of the Order of St. Dominic, 
even to Blessed Louis of Grenada, "the Bossuet of 
Spain," as he \vas called, who opened an admirable 
chapter of his Memorial with this cry: " I^adore Thee, 
O most sweet, most amiable, most merciful Heart, 
wounded for love of me." 

1 Introduction to the Devout Life, part II. chap. xii. 

2 S. Thorn, in cap. xix. Joan. 

3 Life of Blessed Henry Suso, ch. vii. See at the end of his life his 
" Contemplations on the Passion of Jesus Christ." 

4 Tauler, Exercises on the Life and Passion of Jesus Christ, ch. ix. : 
Jesus Pierced with a Lance. 

5 Louis of Grenada, Memorial, ch. vi. 



134 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Thus did the aurora brighten with succeeding cen 
turies. It was not only the pierced side that was con 
templated, it was the Heart, and in the Heart was 
adored the immense love of a God for man; neverthe 
less, neither St. Francis of Assisi, nor St. Dominic, nor 
St. Bonaventure, nor Henry Suso, nor Tauler thought 
of spreading throughout the world devotion to the 
Sacred Heart. They delighted their own soul with it, 
they embalmed their cloisters with it; and, although 
millions of Christians crowded on their track as they 
traversed the cou ntry preaching peace, reconciling cities, 
appeasing passions, causing faith, humility, and the 
love of God to flourish everywhere, never one word 
from their lips called the people to honor that adorable 
Heart, the Source of purity and devotedness, of love 
and peace. The aurora, undoubtedly, increased; but 
the hour destined by God for the star to rise was not 
yet come. 

This progress and, at the same time, this prudence 
are read in the beautiful works of the painters and 
sculptors of that epoch. Contemporaries of St. Bernard, 
St. Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Bonaventure, 
and the greater part of the disciples of these saints, not 
one of them ever dreamed of representing the Heart of 
Jesus or the rays proceeding from the Saviour s breast, 
though some significant facts made known the new direc 
tion of their piety. The first was a subject treated by 
them with singular complacency; namely, the ecstatic 
slumber of .St. John on the Saviour s breast. They re 
turned to it constantly; they clothed it with a delicacy of 
sentiment, a depth of expression, a sort of jealous enthu 
siasm which is really a revelation, and which we again 
find in the magnificent sequences dedicated at this 
epoch to the Beloved Disciple. 1 Moreover, when they 

1 See in particular the Four Sequences of Adam of St. Victor, the 
greatest lyric poet of the Middle Ages, if St. Thomas had not on two 
or three occasions shown himself as capable in this branch as in all 
others. 



Aurora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 135 

represented the crucifix, it was no longer in the gross 
manner of preceding ages: that open side, that torrent 
of blood, that chalice held with so much eagerness. It 
was something more intimate, more tender. The 
wound, which had hitherto been represented on the 
right side of the Saviour, now gradually passed to the 
left; 1 and there it was that all eyes concentrated, and 
all lips began to rest. There are numbers of touching 
and ingenuous examples, in which is seen the contem 
plative genius of the Middle Ages. I shall only cite 
that of the descent, or rather the taking down from the 
cross, represented on the shrine of the great relics at 
Aix-la-Chapelle. One of the arms, the right one, is de 
tached, and Mary supports it weeping; Nicodemus 
draws the nail from the left hand; Joseph of Arimathea, 
supporting the sacred body, embraces the wound of the 
Heart. Sometimes, even, but rarely, as at the portal of 
the cathedral of Mayence, artists have ventured to repre 
sent Christ sitting, opening His tunic and showing His 
Heart. At the right and on the left are seen a man and a 
woman, the woman at the side of the Heart, both pros 
trate, adoring the open side, upon which their tender gaze 
is riveted. Nowhere, I repeat, is the Heart itself repre 
sented, nowhere are seen rays. 2 It is always shown to us 
like the first gleam of dawn, heralding the advent of the 
sun. 

But to behold the sweet aurora developing in brill 
iancy we must cast our gaze on the virgins whom the 
sacred solitudes of the Middle Ages hid from all eyes. 
Who but a woman can comprehend the mysteries of 
the heart? Who will rise so far as to have a presenti- 

1 See in the museum of Cluny a Christ of the twelfth century; the 
hands extended, and a large wound in the left side. See also an in- 
crusted enamel of the thirteenth century, the chalice on the left side. 

* I have, however, seen at Cologne a pall of the thirteenth century, 
upon which is embroidered in red silk a heart pierced with a lance. 
But this is the only example of the kind of which I know; and I am 
not sufficiently assured of its authenticity to adduce it as a proof. 



136 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ment of the mysteries of the Heart of Jesus, if it be not 
a virgin? The lights, the Fathers of the early ages, the 
Doctors of the Middle Ages, pale before the intuition 
of virgins hidden in the silence of cloisters. It is in 
them not only a light, an adoration, a devotion, it is 
more still. In these tender intimacies of Jesus with His 
spouses, the heart is all. They forget, I do not say, only 
His grandeur, His majesty, but even the wounds of His 
feet and hands; they see only His Heart. And when 
Jesus appeared to them, He also showed them only His 
Heart. One day, for example, when St. Gertrude said, 
" My Lord Jesus Christ, I supplicate Thee, by Thy 
Heart transpierced by a lance, to pierce the heart of 
Gertrude with darts of Thy love," the Lord appeared, 
and showing her His open side, said, " Look at my 
Heart. I wish it to be thy temple." At these words 
Gertrude felt herself drawn in a marvellous manner 
into the Heart of Jesus, where " to say what she tasted, 
what she saw, what she heard, belongs not, as she tells 
us, to any tongue neither human nor angelic." 1 On 
another occasion, though making efforts to pray with 
attention, she was besieged by those distractions which 
the saints knew as well as we, but which they bewailed 
more than we. The Lord, to console her, presented her 
His Heart, saying: " Behold my Heart, the delight of 
the Holy Trinity! I give it to Thee that it may supply 
for what is wanting to Thee." From that moment Ger 
trude prayed only through that Divine Heart. By it 
she offered to God her adoration and thanksgiving, the 
insufficiency of which she now no longer felt. In it she 
rested, and her whole life was only one long and sweet 
sigh of love toward that Heart wounded by love still 
more than by the lance that had entered it. From that 
abode she wished never to come forth. 2 

St. Mechtilde, who astonished the thirteenth century 

1 Revelations of St. Gertrude, bk. in. ch. xvi. 
* Ib. ch. xv. 



Aurora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 137 

by the splendor of her illuminations, was honored by no 
less favors. .One night when she could not sleep on 
account of a violent pain in her head, Jesus Christ let 
her see the wound of His Heart, and invited her to enter 
and repose in it. From that day she felt touched by so 
lively devotion toward the Divine Heart of Jesus Christ, 
and received from it such graces, that she was accus 
tomed to say: " If I should write ail the favors that I 
have received from the most amiable Heart of Jesus, it 
would make a larger book than my breviary." 1 

St. Lutgard received still more tender favors, per 
haps. One day, whilst yet a young girl, she was enter 
taining a suitor, when suddenly Jesus Christ appeared 
to her, opened His sacred breast, and showed her His 
Heart. " Look," said He to her, " this is what thou 
oughtest to love. Forsake the attractions of human 
love, and thou shalt find in my Heart ineffable delights." 
Some time after, in recompense for her immediate re 
nunciation of human happiness, the Lord again appeared 
to her, fastened to the cross and radiant with love. As 
she was contemplating Him in ravished delight, He de 
tached one of His arms and drew her to His adorable 
breast. There He made her, swooning with rapture 
celestial, press her lips to the wound of His Heart. 2 

To these illustrious virgins of the thirteenth century 
must be added another saint. She is still more cele 
brated, for she bore on her flesh the secret impress of 
the Saviour s wounds; and less hidden, since she was 
invested with the mission to lead the Pope from Avignon 
to Rome, and thus become the Joan d Arc to the Papacy. 
She it was that excited in the Middle Ages deep and 
universal enthusiasm. This was St. Catharine of 
Siena. One day when meditating on this verse, 
" Create in me a new heart," she beheld her Divine 
Spouse approach and touch her left side with His hand. 

1 Vie de Sainte Mechtilde, liv. n. ch. xxii. 

2 Boll. Act. SS. Junii, torn. iii. p. 239. 



138 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

She immediately experienced such a shock of pain and 
love in it as to cause her to swoon with happiness. 
Amazed and dumfounded, for it seemed to her that 
her Spouse had taken her heart from her breast, she 
saw Him reappear with a luminous heart in His hand. 
At this sight, the virgin sank trembling and fainting. 
The Divine Spouse approaching, these tender words 
reached her ear: " My daughter, I have thy heart and I 
give thee Mine, that thou mayest forever live in Me." 
From that day Catharine had not only a wound in her 
left side, which crowds came to contemplate respect 
fully after her death, but in her heart so active a fire 
that, in comparison with it, all material fire seemed 
cold. Along with that fire, she felt an elevation of soul, 
a purity, a generosity, and such transports of love 
as commanded the admiration of the fourteenth 
century. 

After such a favor it might seem that, if any one 
ought to propagate devotion to the Sacred Heart, it 
should have been St. Catharine. One day the Lord 
even spoke to her in terms as precise as those He used 
in speaking to Margaret Mary; for when Catharine 
asked Him why His side had been pierced, He an 
swered: "It was to reveal to men the secret of My 
Heart, and make them understand that My love is far 
greater than the exterior manifestations I have given of 
it. My sufferings have had an end, but My love has 
none." But neither the light of such a revelation, nor 
the favor with which the Sovereign Pontiff surrounded 
her, nor the popular enthusiasm with which her slight 
est words were received, could transform Catharine 
into an apostle of the Sacred Heart. She did not even 
dream of such a mission. 

Similar things must be said of St. Magdalene di 
Pazzi. The Lord one day appeared to her and showed 
her His Heart, from which moment she was so filled 
with divine love that, to moderate the fire which con- 



Aurora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. \ 39 

sumed her, she was obliged to open her habit, or to 
pour forth burning words in strains of highest praise 
and joy. 1 St. Catherine of Genoa, also, being in 
prayer, suddenly received so violent a wound that the 
fire enkindled in her heart rapt her into ecstasy. She 
appeared like one demented, as she sought relief from 
the fire of her wound. One day, astonished and 
frightened at this phenomenon, and feeling she would 
certainly die, she asked the Lord the cause of the wound 
that was consuming her heart. Then she saw herself 
tenderly drawn to the breast of Jesus Christ crucified; 
His Sacred Heart all inflamed with love was shown her; 
and she learned that from that source came the flames 
that devoured her. 2 

In this history of the Heart of Jesus we must not 
forget St. Margaret of Cortona, who, seeing once, the 
pierced side of Jesus Christ open like a cavern of love, 
hastily laid her hand on her own heart, to prevent its 
leaping out of her breast. 3 

Nor must we pass you over, sweet St. Rose of Lima, 
little flower of the Indies, who constantly saw the Heart 
of Jesus burning like a fiery sun over your head; and 
who one day, when one of its rays fell on your heart, 
felt the sweet languor of happiness and love. 4 Nor you, 
Blessed Angela of Foligno, Clare of Montefalco, Mar 
garet of Hungary, Beatrix of Citeaux, Hosanna of 
Manteau, Frances of Rome, Jane of Valois, rivals of St 
Catharine of Siena and of St. Gertrude, who having 
once seen the Heart of Jesus, no longer knew how to 
languish on earth. At this we are no more astonishec, 
than at perceiving in all of you the same phenomenon, 
namely, the Heart of Jesus inflaming yours. Of infinite 
love must be said what is often remarked of human 

1 Boll. Act. SS. Mali, torn. vi. p. 232. 

2 Vie de Sainte Catherine de Genes, ch. ii. f vii. 

3 Boll. Act. SS. Februar., torn, v. p. 330. 

4 Boll. Act. SS. August., torn. v. 927. 



140 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

love: "Love has but one word; and though constantly 
uttering it, it never repeats itself." * But what does 
astonish me, O holy lovers of Jesus, is your silence. 
Why, though so inflamed with love for this Sacred 
Heart, have you revealed its beauty to none? We seek 
among you apostles and evangelists of the Heart of 
Jesus, but we find only contemplatives, on fire, tistrue % 
but silent. Your silence we should be unable to ex. 
plain; for from the abundance of the heart the mouth 
speaks, had not one of you taught us the mysterious 
reason. 

Once St. Gertrude asked the beloved disciple St. 
John why he, who first had the happiness of reposing 
on the Saviour s breast, had taught us none of the 
secrets of the Adorable Heart. St. John answered that 
God had reserved to Himself to make them known in a 
time of great coldness, and that He held back these 
wonders to rekindle the flames of charity at a time 
in which it would have grown cold and almost 
extinct. 2 

This is the explanation of that aurora, at once so 
luminous and so secret. The Heart of Jesus has never 
ceased to be contemplated, adored, loved; never was it 
not preached. Its devotion is transmitted from soul to 
soul, from solitude to solitude. The more sensitive the 
souls and the more lonely the retreat, the more inti 
mate and ardent, the sweeter is the devotion. But to 
illustrate with souls even the most devoted to the Heart 
of Jesus throws on it no ray of light. It comes not 
forth from shadow. Several times the devotion seemed 
on the point of bursting forth. But it did not, though 
the dawn went on increasing; the light became more 
distinct, the devotion more tender. The seventeenth 

1 Lacordaire, Vie de Saint Dominique, ch. vi. : Institution du saint 
Rosaire. 

2 Revelations of Saint Gertrude, bk. in. ch. xvii. 



Aurora of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. 141 

century found all ready to hail it; but a single voice 
was needed to call it forth. 

Almighty God, indeed, would be able to satisfy 
Himself with a single voice. But as the devotion 
preceded by so long preparation was to spread throng- 
out the Church and preside for ages over the renewal 
of fervor and piety, He resolved to confide this holy 
deposit to a religious Order, a band of virgins scattered 
over the face of the earth, who, inflamed by that burn 
ing Heart, would radiate its beams beyond the grates 
of their cloistered homes. 

As yet, as far as we know, no one has studied the 
history of the Visitation from this point of view. No 
one has shown that it was established for the Sacred 
Heart; and we ourselves who have written its origin, 
why may we not now confess that we did not then 
know to what a degree the broad lines and least details 
of that Institute relate to the Heart of Jesus? We shall 
now fill up this void. After having seen devction to 
the Sacred Heart arise and spread throughout the 
whole Church, we shall go back to gaze upon it as it 
increases in beauty and brilliancy in the bosom of the 
Visitation. 



142 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary A lacoque. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE VISITATION ESTABLISHED TO BE THE SANC 
TUARY OF THE SACRED HEART. 

" Inspice, et fac secundum exemplar quod tibi monstratum est." 

" Look and make it according to the pattern that was shown thee." 
Exodus xxv. 

* Arcam de lignis setirn compingue, et deaurabis earn auro mundis 
simo intus et foris; faciesque propitiatorium de auro mundissimo; 
duosque cherubim expandentes alas, versis vultibus in propitiatorium." 

" Thou shall construct an ark of setim wood, covered with the purest 
gold within and without ; the propitiatory make also of the purest gold ; 
and there shall be two cherubim, spreading their wings, and their eyes 
fixed on the propitiatory." Ibid. 

tDO not know," said St. Francis de Sales in his own 
gracious style, " why they call me the founder, 
for I have not done what I wished; in fact, I have 
done just what I did not wish." 

The Visitation, such as it came from the hands of St. 
Francis de Sales in 1615, is indeed something very differ 
ent from what he had at first projected. Every step in. 
the organization of his work w r as marked by some ob 
stacle invincible and unforeseen, which forced him to 
modify his plans, and sweetly impelled him to form his 
religious in a mould quite contrary to his original 
design. 

He desired to make of them Marthas, and he made 
Maries. He wished to throw them out into the active 
life, and he led them into the contemplative. He 
wished to send them into cities and villages, to seek 
out the suffering and behold, he hid them from all 
eyes behind impenetrable bars! This Visitation, which 

1 Esprit de Saint Francois de Sales, Migne, torn. ii. p. 78. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 1 43 

was to resemble a hive whose bees were to carry the 
honey of charity to all wounds of soul and body, was 
suddenly closed. It enveloped itself in silence. No 
longer an active hive, it became a sweet, recollected 
sanctuary, altogether interior; something like that 
which God demanded of Moses when He said to him: 
" Thou shalt construct, according to the model that I 
shall show thee, an ark of setim wood, covered with the 
purest gold within and without ; with cherubim, their 
wings spread and their eyes fixed on the propitiatory." 
This is what St. Francis de Sales hardly thought to do, 
and this is what the Visitation became a silent ark 
lined with gold, the abode of prayerful cherubim. 

But dare we say that in erecting the Visitation St. 
Francis de Sales did not suspect what it was one day to 
become? Is it certain that from this period he did not 
organize it with the idea of the Sacred Heart in view, 
and according to *he model that had been mysteriously 
shown him ? 

On June 10, 1611, he wrote to his holy co-operatrix : 
"Good-morning, my dear Mother! God gave me last 
night the thought that our house of the Visitation is by 
His grace noble and important enough to possess its coat- 
of-arms, its escutcheon, its motto, and its legend. I think, 
.then, dear Mother, if you agree, that we shall take for our 
coat-of-arms a heart pierced with two arrows, encircled 
by a crown of thorns, and surmounted by a cross graven 
with the sacred names of Jesus and Mary. My daugh 
ter, when next we meet I shall tell you a thousand little 
thoughts that have occurred to me on this matter; for, in 
truth, our little congregation is the work of Jesus and 
Mary. The Saviour when dying generated us by the 
opening cf His Sacred Heart." 

Thus wrote St. Francis on June 10, 1611. Now, do 
we know what this roth of June was ? It was this year, 
1611, the first Friday after the octave of the Blessed 
Sacrament ; that is, the very day chosen from all eter- 



144 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

nity to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart ; the day of 
which the Lord said sixty years after to Margaret 
Mary : < I desire that the Friday after the octave of the 
Blessed Sacrament shall be a solemn feast throughout 
the Church in honor of My Divine Heart." It was on 
this selfsame day that St. Francis de Sales, ravished in 
ecstasy, gave to his rising Institute for device and stand 
ard a heart crowned with thorns ! 

This certainly affords matter for reflection. 
But what were these "thousand little thoughts" that 
St. Francis had had on that ecstatic night, and that made 
him wish so eagerly for morning, that he might com 
municate them to his holy co-operatrix ? In writing the 
history of St. Chantal I asked myself this question. I 
was then ignorant ; but now I know. A closer study of 
the manuscripts of the Order has given me a deeper in 
sight into the most secret thoughts of the holy bishop 
at the moment in which, his eye resting on the model, 
he designed the plan of the Visitation. "This is the 
model," he said to himself, " the Heart of Jesus !" And 
when, his work finished, he lay in the silence of death, 
St. Chantal, fearing that he had not been understood, 
collected a thousand little secret, confidential papers, 
received from him, and completed the revelation. 

Let us dive into these details so marvellous and yet 
so little known. 

A century before opening his adorable breast and de 
claring to Margaret Mary that He wished to make the 
daughters of the Visitation the depositaries of His 
Heart, the Lord cast a look of love on him who was to 
be the founder of the Institute, formed his heart on the 
model of His ow r n, and rendered it the meekest and 
humblest of all hearts. " I do not know," says a certain 
author, " whether there has ever been a saint that prac 
tised more excellently the lesson of the Saviour : Learn 
of Me that I am meek and humble of heart . " 

1 See the " Heart of St. Francis de Sales:" One-and-thirty Consid 
erations, published by the Visitation of Annecy, p. 35. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 145 

Some years after, God also prepared for foundress 
the saint who, formed by St. Francis de Sales, became, 
as she was pleased to call herself, " the child of the 
Heart of Jesus," l and who was to practise in a high 
degree, in the natural and supernatural greatness of her 
strength, the virtues of meekness and humility. " It 
was revealed to a soul eminently favored by God," re 
lates Mother de Chaugy, " that, when Jesus pronounced 
this high lesson : * Learn of Me that I am meek and 
humble of heart, 1 He cast a look of love and predilection 
on our holy Mother de Chantal." 3 

But it is especially during the years that the two 
saints worked together to form the Visitation, that it is 
sweet to study by what mysterious ways they were led to 
dispose all things in order that this Institute, "founded 
on the golden basis of meekness and humility," 3 might 
become the sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 

At the moment of Mme. de Chantal s departure for 
Annecy to begin the foundation of the Institute, St. 
Francis de Sales wrote her a line to animate her cour 
age : " My advice, my daughter, is, that henceforth we 
live no more in ourselves, but that in heart, intention, 
and confidence we lodge forever in the pierced side of the 
Saviour." 

Again, on the eve of her entrance : " My daughter, I 
must tell you that I have never seen so clearly how mud" 
you are my daughter as now. But I say it as I see it 
in the Heart of our Saviour. 4 O my daughter, how I 
desire that your life be hidden with Jesus Christ in God ! 

" God, who has taken her, and made her the child of His Heart, 
will have care of her." (Letter of Mother de Brechard, Migne, p. 
1007.) 

2 See the " Heart of St. Jane de Chantal:" One-and-thirty Consid 
erations, published by the Visitation of Annecy, p. 67. 

3 Esprit de Saint Fran$ois de Sales, Migne, torn. ii. p. 399. 
4 Lettre, April 24, 1610. 



146 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

I am going to make a little prayer for this, in which I 
shall implore the royal heart of the Saviour for ours." ! 

And to his daughters gathered around him in those 
first sweet moments of the little " Gallery House" he 
says : "The other day, considering in prayer the open 
side of our Saviour, and gazing upon His Heart, I seemed 
to see all our hearts around His, doing Him homage as 
the Sovereign King of hearts." 

Thus, in the far-off time, we behold the image under 
which St. Francis loved to represent to himself his little 
congregation, his daughters lodged in the Heart of Jesus, 
or their hearts surrounding and rendering homage to 
the Heart of Jesus. Some days later, when their first 
home was disputed with the Sisters, St. Chantal and 
her daughters remembered the true dwelling assigned 
to them by their holy founder. "Who could have told 
you," wrote the holy bishop, " that our good Sisters of 
the Visitation have met with opposition to their locating 
and building ? O my dear father, the Lord is the refuge 
of their souls; so are they not too happy? And as our 
good Mother (Mother de Chantal), although languish 
ing, yet vigorous, said to me yesterday : If the Sisters 
of the Visitation are very humble and faithful to God, 
they shall have the Heart of Jesus for a dwelling and 
sojourn in this world. " 3 

But let us continue. This little incident, though very 
insignificant, becomes more definite and strikingly clear. 
As the Heart of Jesus was to be the abode of the daugh 
ters of the Visitation, St. Francis de Sales exhausted all 
his eloquence, all his piety, in showing them its beauty. 
"O my daughter," he wrote to one of them, "if you 
look at this Heart, so meek, so sweet, so condescending, 
so loving toward miserable creatures, provided only 
they recognize their misery ; so gracious toward the 
unfortunate, so good to penitents ! Ah ! who would 

1 Lettre, June 5, 1610. 

2 Lettre a un eccle c iastique, September, 1617. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 147 

not love this royal Heart so paternally maternal toward 
us ?" 1 To another religious he wrote: " O my daughter, 
put it your dear heart in \\\e pierced side of the Saviour, 
and unite it to the King of hearts, who is as on His royal 
throne to receive the homage and obedience of all hearts, 
and who holds the door open that all may approach for 
an audience." 2 And to the venerable Mother de Chan- 
tal, on the feast of St. Catharine of Siena: "O God! 
my well-beloved daughter, apropos of our heart, may it 
happen to us as to this saint: may the Saviour take our 
heart and put His own in its place! But should we not 
rather render ours all His, absolutely His ? Yes, let Him 
do it, this sweet Jesus ! I conjure Him by His own and 
bythe love that He incloses in it, which is the love of 
loves ! But if He will not do it, (oh, but He will !) at 
least let Him not prevent us from going to take His !" 
And the amiable saint adds: "And if He were to open 
our breast to place therein His own Heart, would we 
not let Him do it?" 3 

Thus it is not enough for St. Francis de Sales to lodge 
his humble little Visitation in the Heart of Jesus. It is 
this Sacred Heart that he now wishes to lodge in his 
humble little Visitation. "And He [Jesus] cannot," he 
says, " prevent our taking it from Him for that pur 
pose." 

Farther on his words are still more clear, more pre 
cise: " My very dear daughter, are we not children, 
adorers, and servants of the loving and paternal Heart 
of our Saviour ? Is it not on this foundation that we 
have built our hopes ? He is our Master, our King, our 
Father, our all. Let us but think of serving Him well, 
and He will think of rewarding us well." 4 And again, 
in almost the same terms : " Do you not wish to be 

1 Lettre, February 18, 1618. 

2 I43d Letter, no date. 

3 Lettre, April 29, 1622. 

* Lettres, liv. iv. Letter 96, without date. 



148 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

daughters, adorers, and servants of the loving Heart of 
this Divine Saviour? Is it not on this burning furnace 
of dilection that you have cast all your hopes ?" " Unite 
your heart by holy submission to the Heart of Jesus, 
which, grafted on the Divinity, will be the root of the 
tree of which you will form the branches." " 1 And finally 
this word which threw light on all else, and which bap 
tized the Visitation by its true name : " The religious of 
the Visitation who shall be so happy as to observe their 
Rules well may truly bear the name of Evangelical 
Daughters, established in these latter times to be the 
imitators of the Heart of Jesus in meekness and humil 
ity, the basis and foundation of their Order. It will 
give them the privilege and incomparable grace of bear 
ing the title of Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus." 3 

Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ! This is the 
name that St. Francis de Sales gave to his religious sixty 
years before the revelation made to Margaret Mary. He 
established them to be " the adorers of the Sacred 
Heart," "the imitators of the Sacred Heart," "the 
servants of the Sacred Heart." The Heart of Jesus will 
be " their sojourn," " the root of the tree of which they 
will be the branches," " the foundation of their hopes 
and the cause of their being." "They were to take 
from Jesus His Heart," and " to open their breast to 
lodge Him therein," as in a sanctuary. 

This is what the holy Bishop saw; and, carried out of 
himself by such thoughts, he felt that something great 
was being prepared. " Believe me, my dear Mother, 
God wishes I know not what great things from us." 4 
And to Mother Favre: " His all-powerful hand will make 

1 " Abridgment of the Interior Spirit of the Religious of the Visita 
tion," explained by St. Francis de Sales, collected by Mgr. de Maupas, 
ch. vi. (Rouen, 1644): De 1 abandon a la Providence, p. 34. 

2 Ib., ch. ix. p. 53. 

3 " Sentiments of St. Francis de Sales on the Sacred Heart," p. 194. 

4 Lettre, February, 1615. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 149 

of this little Institute more than men can imagine." 
Whilst contemplating these things, and beholding his 
little Visitation "coming forth from the pierced side of 
Jesus Christ," and called to the honor of being " the 
sanctuary of His Adorable Heart;" like an eminent archi 
tect, who skilfully causes the general lines and the least 
details to converge to the determined end, he organized 
his whole Institute with a view to its marvellous mission. 

The Visitation was, then, to become a contemplative 
Order, and as such its whole plan is changed ! But 
then " it is in the Heart of Jesus that it is to make this 
continual contemplation." 3 St. Francis studied the 
kind of prayer proper for the Visitation, the prayer of 
simple attention, of simple remission and repose in God. 
He wished this look to be fixed on the Sacred Heart; 
and this repose, a sweet sleep " on that same well- 
loved Heart." 3 Hear how he exalts this kind of prayer: 
" O my daughters, it is much better to sleep on the sacred 
breast of the Saviour than to watch elsewhere, wherever 
else it may be." He made each of his daughters take 
the following resolution: " I shall every day give a cer 
tain time to this sacred sleep, so that my soul in imita 
tion of the beloved disciple may sleep in all security on the 
amiable breast, nay, in the loving Heart of the loving 
Saviour." 

"Our blessed Father," said St. Chantal, "who under 
stood excellently well all sorts of prayer, has always 
approved of this [the prayer of simple regard]. He 
said that, whilst others ate diverse viands at the Lord s 
table, we ought to rest our soul and all our affections 
on His loving breast." 

1 Lettre, October, 1617. 

2 "Interior Spirit of the Religious of the Visitation," by Mgr. de 
Maupas, p. 19. 

3 " Treatise of the Love of God," Migne, p. 664. 

4 XXIII. Entertainment of St. Francis de Sales: "De la crucifixion 
de Notre-Seigneur Jesus-Christ. 

6 Answer of St. Chantal on Article XXIV. 



150 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Not, of course, that in this contemplation you should 
forget the neighbor. Oh, this dear neighbor ! You must 
always think of him. But St. Francis de Sales wishes 
that his daughters see him no more except in the Heart 
of Jesus and as if through His sacred breast. " There," 
said he, " who would not love him ? who would not bear 
with his defects? Yes, he is there, this dear neighbor, 
in the breast of the Saviour. He is there, so loved and 
so amiable that the Lover dies of love of him." 

All the Rules of the Visitation proceed from the same 
thought, and conduct to the same end. "I assure you, 
my beloved daughters," says the saint, " you will capti 
vate the Heart of Jesus if you are faithful to the practice 
of your Rules." 2 

"O God !" he cries elsewhere, "how necessary it is 
that our poor heart should live no more but under 
obedience to the Heart of Jesus ! And since this Sacred 
Heart has no more affectionate law than meekness, 
humility, and chanty, we must perforce hold firmly to 
these dear virtues." 3 He repeats on every key that all 
the Rules converge to two points, humility and meek 
ness, and that he has expressly chosen these two virtues 
because they are those of the Heart of Jesus. St. Chan- 
tal speaks in the same way: "Inculcate to all your 
daughters," she writes to a Superioress, " the practice 
of these words of the Lord: Learn of Me that I am meek 
and humble of heart They are the substance, the life 
of our holy vocation." 

It was after organizing thus the interior of the sanc 
tuary, " after giving it for golden foundation, humility 
and meekness," because these are the virtues of the 
Heart of Jesus, that St. Francis de Sales, as if wishing 

1 XII. Entertainment: " De la cordialite." 

2 " History of the Gallery." See also, in the "Little Customs," the 
Entertainment with Sister Claude Simplicienne. 

8 " Life of the Venerable Mother Clement," published in 1685, p. 264. 
4 Letter to Sister de Blonay, Migne, torn. ii. p. 1069. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 1 5 1 

to tear away the last veil and initiate the world itself 
into the grand thought that ruled him finally realized 
the project of which he had spoken to his saintly co- 
operatrix, June 10, 1611. He gave to his Institute as 
coat-of-arms the Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns. 
The religious wear it engraven on their pectoral cross. 
It blazons at the head of all their writings, private or 
public. It is used as a seal for their letters. They have 
it sculptured on the exterior doors of their convents. 1 
He acted like a skilful architect who, after having con 
structed a palace, puts on the main door the escutcheon 
of the noble lord who is to reside therein. 

All this, assuredly, is very striking, when we reflect 
that every one of these facts is over sixty years prior to 
the revelations of Margaret Mary. But what follows is 
perhaps still more astonishing. 

St. Francis de Sales was hardly dead when his saintly 
and faithful co-operatrix, in a spirit of filial piety, col 
lected all the little papers, the most secret, most con 
fidential that she had received from her holy Father, 
and directed them to the Order to be an eternal memo 
rial of him. " My very dear Sisters," said the venerable 
foundress in the letter that forwarded them, " we cor 
dially address to you this writing, because it is taken 
from the works of our blessed Father. I am particu 
larly pleased to send you several little collections that 
we have found written by his dear and saintly hand. 
They are his own thoughts, his own words; and in them 
you will easily recognize his spirit. We have tried to 
abridge them, and arrange the whole into meditations." 

" The seal of all the monasteries shall be engraved with a heart, in 
the middle of which there shall be the most holy name of Jesus and of 
Mary together, surrounded by a crown of thorns, and transpierced by 
two arrows, with a little cross, the lower end of which shall be in the 
cavity of the heart, and the head within the crown. There shall be no 
other form of seal in the house. The letters shall all be sealed with it." 
(" Custom Book" of the Religious of the Visitation, compiled by St. 
Chantal, p. 78.) 



152 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacogue. 

There are two series, called in the Order respectively 
" the Great " and " the Little " Meditations. In the first 
collection, 1 signed by St. Chantal and bearing date of 
July, 1637, there are some remarkable things; for ex 
ample, the eighteenth meditation: " By what means the 
Religious Soul ravishes the Heart of her Beloved." 
But it is the second collection, particularly, that is 
astonishing from this stand-point. 3 There is one medi 
tation on the subject that now occupies us, so clear, so 
explicit, in which the saint calls his daughters to medi 
tate on the honor that God has done them in confiding to 
them His Heart. This meditation is in terms so precise 
that we at first believed it written at a later date. It 
appeared to us impossible that such a page could have 
been extracted by St. Chantal from the papers of St. 
Francis de Sales, unless both were prophets. We 
yielded only when we had in our hands a copy pub 
lished undoubtedly during the life of St. Chantal and 
more than sixty years before the apparition of the Lord 
to Margaret Mary. 3 

1 Live 4- Jesus. Meditations for the Annual Retreats," taken from 
several collections by the hand of our holy Father. This collection is 
prefaced by a letter of St. Chantal, and dated thus: " From this first 
monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary of Annecy, August 15, 1637, 
begun under the triumphant protection of the Mother of God." One 
vol. in white parchment. On the first page a silver heart in rays, in the 
centre of the heart Christ s monogram, I.H.S., and below three nails. 
This volume contains thirty-three meditations. 

2 Live -f- Jesus. " Spiritual Exercises for a Ten Days Solitude, ac 
cording to the spirit of St. Francis de Sales, taken for the greater part 
from his writings." One vol., republished on white parchment, without 
date or publisher s name. It comprises only ten meditations, one for 
each day, but they are most beautiful. 

3 What created the difficulty for us is that the second collection is not 
dated; it does not even give the name of the publisher. But we could 
not doubt the compilation was St. Chantal s. The traditions of the 
Order, the preface, the Directory on page 16, the introduction of the 
different parts, a multitude of counsels, of directions, which could come 
only from the foundress, all, even the style, the orthography, and 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 1 53 

This is the meditation that St. Chantal herself copied 
from several little collections found written by the holy- 
hand of our blessed Father, and which she recom 
mended to her daughters. Again I ask, is this a proph 
ecy? Is it mere chance? It is entitled " Eighth Medi 
tation: .Of the Love that Jesus Christ Bears us." 

After having made her dear daughters consider the 
love that Jesus Christ bore them, first, in the mystery of 
the Incarnation; second, in that of the Eucharist; third, 
in that of the Dolorous Passion, she comes to a fourth 
consideration, altogether unique when we reflect upon 
the date at which she wrote: 

" CONSIDERATION IV. 

" Consider that the sweet Saviour not only showed 
His love for us, as well as for all other Christians, by the 
work of our redemption; but that He obliges us espe 
cially, as daughters of the Visitation, by the gift and 
favor that He has made to our Order and to each of us 
in t p articular of His Heart, or rather of the virtues it 
contains, since He has founded our most lovely Insti 
tute on these two precepts: Learn of Me that I am 
meek and humble of heart. This is the portion of His 
treasures that has fallen to us. Having given to other 

that beautiful cover of white parchment, gave us the date of the compi 
lation and the certainty that it was St. Chantal s. But what we there 
read was so important that we wished to have the material proof of it. 
At Rouen first, then at Nantes, Boulogne, Dijon, wherever we went 
we asked to see the oldest copies of the " Meditations for Retreats." 
We found them bearing like the others no date, but an approbation of 
the Doctors of the Sorbonne which was dated. Here it is: "We the 
undersigned, Doctors of Theology of the Sacred Faculty of Paris, 
approve, praise, and highly esteem this book of meditations for 
retreats, etc., after the corrections and abridgments made by us, by 
which we hope that the Lord will be blessed. Given this day, Feast of 
St. John Evangelist. Dec. 27, 1643." Now, St. Chantal died in 1641, 
and the corrections referred to a previous edition that we had had until 
then in our possession. The proof could not be more complete. 



154 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Orders, to one eminent prayer, to another solitude, to 
another austerity, He bequeathed to us what, undoubt 
edly, He esteemed more dear, since His precious Heart 
is its depository. Ah, could we but have this satisfac 
tion, could we learn and practise well the lesson that 
this loving Saviour gives us, we should then be honored 
in bearing the title of Daughters of the Heart of Jesus. " 
Mother de Chantal then concludes with this cry of 
gratitude and thanksgiving: 

" It is very sweet, O my soul, that this gracious Jesus 
has chosen us to make us the daughters of His Heart. 
Why, O my Saviour, hast Thou not so favored others 
in Thy Church ? What have we done for Thy Good 
ness to have from all eternity destined for us this treasure in 
these last ages of the world?" 

In founding every religious Order, God ordinarily 
opens to it a source of love for the interior aliment of 
its divine life and the means of its apostolate. To one, 
the cross and the rigors of penance; to another, the 
desert and the invisible perfumes of contemplation; and 
to a third, the love of souls and apostolic ardor. The 
Visitation was to have its special portion, namely, the 
sacred deposit of the Heart of Jesus. But who will not 
be astonished, recognizing with what clearness, what 
increasing precision St. Francis de Sales and St. Chan 
tal had, sixty years before, the intuitive perception of 
it ? It was at first only a sign, a word, a vague linea 
ment: "The Heart of Jesus will be the refuge, the 
sojourn of the daughters of the Visitation." The idea 
becomes more distinct, better defined: "It is on the 
Sacred Heart that the Visitation is founded." "The 
Sacred Heart is the root that bears the Visitation." 
Is this enough ? No: the idea seems now to be endued 
with life; it is warmed, it takes color as in a picture: 
"The religious of the Visitation shall be the adorers of 
the Sacred Heart." Again: "They shall be the ser- 
yants of the Sacred Heart. Their spirit shall be the 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. i 55 

imitation of the Sacred Heart; their arms, a heart 
crowned with thorns; their title, Daughters of the 
Heart of Jesus. And to accomplish all this, their gift, 
the privilege laid up for them from all eternity, and 
which shall be theirs in the latter times, in preference 
to all other religious Orders, will be the Heart of 
Jesus." Behold the words of St. Francis de Sales 
echoed by St. Chantal. Then both died, and half a 
century passed before the humble yet illustrious virgin 
appeared who was to give uense and meaning to their 
words, who was to cast around their divine presenti 
ments the halo of prophecy. 

We may, however, well believe that this half-century 
did not roll round without the Visitation s turning its 
eyes and its heart to the Heart of Jesus. St. Francis 
de Sales had spoken too loudly, and his words were too 
tenderly meditated by his daughters, for his pious in 
spirations to be forgotten. Indeed, when one enters 
the convents during those sixty years that separate us 
from the first revelations made to Margaret Mary, we 
perceive everywhere, not indeed public devotion, but 
in a multitude of the religious eminent for piety, a de 
votion deep, tender, and heart-felt, neither public nor 
propagated, but which God preserved by extraordinary 
graces. 

Let us quote some facts. At Annecy, for example, 
Sister Anne-Marie Rosset went one day to the novitiate 
oratory to kiss, according to her custom in passing, the 
feet of a large crucifix still preserved there. " It seemed 
to me," she said when relating the fact to the venerable 
Mother de Chantal, " that my Jesus stooped toward me, 
and that my lips, which were on the wound of His foot, 
were suddenly removed to that of His side. My heart 
was so forcibly drawn into my Lord s that I cannot ex 
press what I experienced, nor what passed within me 
during its passage into the Sacred Heart of Jesus," 



156 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoqite. 

This was in 1614, hardly four years after the foundation. 4 
A little later, in 1618, in the same convent of Annecy, 
our old manuscripts show us Mother de la Roche teach 
ing the young novices to read in the Heart of Jesus 
dying; 2 Mother de Brechard incessantly studying this 
Heart all luminous, in which, she said, the most simple 
very quickly became the most learned; 3 Mother Bally, 
of whom it was said that between the Heart of Jesus 
and her own there was room for nothing; 4 and, in fine, 
so many others whom the Annecy Annals show us 
holily enamored of the Heart of Jesus, at a time the 
most remote from the establishment of its devotion. 

At Melun, in 1636, the venerable Mother Clement, 
being in prayer, was vouchsafed a privilege like to that 
with which God honored St. Catharine of Siena. " It 
seemed to me," she wrote, " that God took my heart out 
of my breast, and put His own in its place; so that, as 
it appeared to me, I had no other heart than that of 
Jesus." Ravished thus into ecstasy, she saw her blessed 
Father St. Francis de Sales making his sojourn in the 
Sacred Heart of Jesus, and there receiving the inspira 
tion to erect an Order which would have only one end, 
that of honoring the Divine Heart of Jesus. In another 
ecstasy she saw the Blessed Virgin Mary drawing from 
the pierced side of Jesus Christ and pouring over her 
dear Visitation all the graces of which it had need to 
fulfil its mission. 5 

At Turin, in 1635, an humble domestic Sister, Jeanne- 
Benigne Gojos, received still more wonderful favors. 
She spent her life in adoring and invoking the Heart of 
Jesus in these words: " O Heart of Jesus, pardon the 

1 Life of Mother Anne-Marie Rosset, by Mother de Chaugy. 

9 Annals of the Visitation of Annecy. 

8 Ib. Life of Mother de Brechard, by Mother de Chaugy. 

4 Life of Mother Bally. 

5 Life of the Venerable Mother Anne-Marguerite Clement, etc. 
Paris, 1686, p. 109. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 157 

whole world and punish only Jeanne-Benigne ! Make 
her bear all the chastisements due to the guilty world." 
Rapt frequently into ecstasy, united in an ineffable 
manner to the Heart of Jesus, sharing its sadness, and 
inflamed with the desire of making it known and loved, 
she foresaw in divine light the virgin of Paray, and 
announced the great mission with which she would one 
day be charged. 1 At the same time,. 1635, at Lyons, 
Mother M. Genevieve de Pradel devoted herself in 
quality of victim to the Heart of Jesus, "for which she 
had all her life the most tender devotion," and from 
which she drew strength that frequently raised her 
to heroism. 2 Shortly before, at Paris, 1627, Mme. de 
Boutelier left the world where God had given her a 
great name, a handsome fortune, children elevated to 
the highest honors of Church and State, and a number 
of charming grandchildren. She left all for the sole 
reason that she was too happy, and that on account of 
her great happiness she trembled for her eternal salva 
tion. She came to the Visitation, and there found her 
self still more happy. But why did she not tremble 
there? "Ah!" said she, "it is that now I see myself 
entirely hidden in the Heart of Jesus, and in it there is 
no room for fear." 

At Chartres, 1661, Sister Marie-Guillemette Dunas 
made her ordinary residence in the wound of Jesus 
side. The Lord had taught her that there she would 
be near His Heart, and that there she might await in 
peace His judgment at the hour of death. The same 
year, in the second convent of Lyons, they make men 
tion of a religious, Mother de Rioux, who lived only 
for the Sacred Heart. She left some writings which 
we have read, and which are embalmed with the most 
tender and ardent devotion for the Heart of Jesus. 3 

1 " The Charm of Divine Love; or, Life of the Devout Sister Jeanne- 
Benigne Gojos," p. 353. 

2 Annals of the Visitation of Lyons. 

3 Archives of the Second Monastery of Lyons, MSS. of Mother de 
Rioux. 



158 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoqtie. 

At Perigueux, in 1664, the feast of the Conception, a 
pious and fervent religious, Marie-Pacifique Collet, 
being in prayer, asked for purity of heart. " All at 
once," said she, " God did me a favor of which it makes 
me tremble to think. It seemed to me that our 
Saviour told me to approach His Divine Heart, the 
source of all purity. At the same instant, He appeared 
to me, if I do not deceive myself, and made me repose 
on His Sacred Heart." Shortly after, at Amiens, 
Mother Anne-Seraphine Cornet felt an attraction to 
consecrate herself to the Heart of Jesus. The manu 
script annals of the house have carefully noted that this 
was " before knowing anything of the favors that 
venerable Sister Margaret Mary received from the 
Lord;" and they enter into details that show Sister 
Anne-Seraphine to be one of the most generous lovers 
of the Heart of Jesus. 2 We read the same of Mother 
Marie-Seraphine de Gaillard, who passed from the 
Order of Citeaux to the Visitation, from the school of 
St. Bernard to that of St. Francis de Sales, and who has 
left us some meditations redolent with the most ardent 
devotion to the Heart of Jesus. 3 

How many names we could add to these! In almost 
all the Visitation convents we find religious of high 
sanctity favored with the most striking lights on the 
Sacred Heart. But what -is most astonishing is that 
nowhere do we perceive the least temptation to propa 
gate the devotion. The worship is entirely private and 
personal. We discover no exterior manifestation. 
Not a single religious thinks of communicating it even 
to the Sisters of her own convent; and, for still stronger 
reasons, not one dreams of spreading it beyond the 
grate. Here, as in the Middle Ages, the Heart of 
Jesus has its adorers and lovers, but no evangelists or 
apostles, 

1 Life of Sister Marie-Pacifique Collet, 

* Annals of the Visitation of Amiens, 

* Annals of thp visitation of Ajx. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 159 

In the list of the convents in which we have seen the 
devotion to the Heart of Jesus flourishing in the seven 
teenth century, it may be surprising that we have not 
cited Paray. But neither in its Annals, which we have 
read carefully, nor in the lives of the religious, nor in 
the archives, so rich and so well kept, is there one word, 
one line relative to the Heart of Jesus. And what is 
still more remarkable, Margaret Mary is not less than 
her Sisters a stranger to this devotion. Read her 
Memoire, study her first steps in the religious life, and 
we find not the slightest allusion to it. She herself 
declares that her eyes were never turned to the sacred 
side until the day on which God, drawing aside the 
veil, presented to her His Adorable Heart with the 
injunction to make it known and adored by the whole 
world. 

This day is come. After having for six hundred 
years embalmed the solitudes of the Church, it is time 
for this mighty devotion to go forth, to quicken faith 
and inflame hearts. The world had grown cold. Faith, 
like love, had diminished. Minds were darkened, hearts 
saddened. On the other hand, souls sensitive as those 
that in the Middle Ages chose to shut themselves up in 
cloisters are now multiplied in the world. The per 
fume has escaped from its vase. Its odor is every 
where: in the bosom of Christian families, and in recol 
lected hearts truly capable of understanding all that is 
most exquisite in the mysteries of Christianity. 

O Jesus! Jesus! The Church and the world claim 
Thy Heart. Some detached sparks from this burning 
flame will not suffice us. The furnace itself is what we 
want. The virgin is ready, likewise the sanctuary. Holy 
angels who guard our soul, lead to the altar the faith 
ful virgin, and by her, through her purified hands, send 
forth over the face of the earth the fire that warms, 
renews, and vivifies! 



160 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alaccque. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE REVELATIONS OF THE SACRED HEART. 
1673-1675. 

"Si scires dcnum Dei." 

"If thou didst know the gift of God!" St. John iv. 10. 

" Eo v.sque procedens ut ipsius recumberet pectore Salvatoris. " 

" She mounted up and reposed on the breast of the Saviour Himself." 
Leonine Sacramentary , Pref. of the Mass of St. John. 

" Beatus qui supra pectus Domini recubuit! Fluenta Evangelii de 
ipso sacro Dominici pectoris fonte potavit/ 

" Blessed is he who has leaned on the breast of the Lord! He drew 
from the sacred fountain of the Saviour s Heart the living waters of 
the Gospel." Rom. Brev., Feast of St. John. 



must recall what has been said in the fifth 
chapter of this Life. What most astonished the 
Sisters of Paray on examining the life of Mar 
garet Mary is the length and ecstatic character of her 
prayer. On certain days, for example, when the 
Blessed Sacrament was exposed, she never left the 
choir. Feeble in health, and sometimes even rising 
from sickness, she remained entire hours motionless on 
her knees, without support, her hands joined, her eyes 
lowered. To her devotions of the day she began, 
toward the end of 1673, to add prayers during the 
night. We have seen that, particularly during the 
night between Holy Thursday and Friday, she remained 
twelve consecutive hours on her knees, so absorbed 
that she heard nothing of what passed around her. 
The Sisters, not knowing how to describe such a state, 
compared her to a statue of marble, and called her an 
" ecstatic." Frequently she came from prayer flushed 
and trembling, unable to stand, and ready to faint. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 1 6 1 

Three or four times, even, it was necessary to carry her 
swooning under the assaults of a love too strong for 
mortal to bear. 

It was under such circumstances, and during such 
ecstatic prayers, that, unsuspected by the Community, 
took place the grand revelations of the Sacred Heart. 
We say revelations; for there were three of them, three 
and distinct, with several months intervening between 
them. The first was on December 27, 1673, when Mar 
garet Mary was twenty-six years of age and had been 
professed only a little over a year. The second was in the 
following year, 1674. Of the precise day we are ignorant. 
The Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the chapel; 
and, from the customs of the time, we may conjecture 
that it was during the octave of Corpus Christi. The 
third took place June i6> 1675, on a day of the same 
octave. There was, then, between these apparitions a 
very considerable interval some months between the 
first and the second, and one year at least between the 
second and the third. This was not too much. Mar 
garet had time to recover from the state of emotion 
consequent upon each of these apparitions; for her 
agitation and weakness were such that, once in partic 
ular, it was thought she would die. 

When we consider these three apparitions in their 
entirety from another point of view, we are struck by 
their order, their gradation, their increasing beauty. 
It is like a drama in three acts, in which God raised 
little by little the mind of His servant to the full under 
standing of the mission that He was so unexpectedly 
about to confide to her. 

For the rest, we have an irrefragable witness of the 
apparitions Margaret Mary herself. Obliged by her 
Superiors to put the recital of these marvels into writ 
ing, she did it watering the paper with her tears; and 
when it was returned to her she threw it in the fire. 
Only a single one of those copy-books remains; and 



1 62 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

there is in it a tone of humility so sincere, a frankness 
so true, forgetfulness of self so great, and traces of 
emotion so deep, that, even were the Church not con 
vinced of the truth of the apparitions, it would be im 
possible to doubt them after listening to Margaret 
Mary s accents whilst relating them. 

"It is for Thy love alone, O my God," she began, 
" that I submit to write this in obedience, and I ask Thy 
pardon for the resistance I have made. But as no one 
except Thyself can know the extent of the repugnance 
that I feel, so it is only Thou that canst give me the 
strength to overcome it." Then she added these ad 
mirable words: " I receive this order as coming from 
Thee; and by its fulfilment I wish to punish the. excessive 
joy and precaution that I have taken to follow the great in 
clination that I have always had to bury myself in eternal 
oblivion of creatures. O my Sovereign Good, may I write 
nothing but for Thy greater glory and my still greater 
confusion!" 

She then took her pen and began her recital. But 
soon she stopped dumfounded, speechless, confused, 
utterly unable to overcome her repugnance. " O my 
Lord and my God, who alone knowest the pain that I 
suffer in fulfilling this obedience and the violence that I 
must do myself to overcome the repugnance and con 
fusion that I feel in writing all this, grant me grace to 
die rather than put down anything but what springs 
from Thy Spirit of truth, and which will give Thee 
glory and me confusion. In mercy, O my Sovereign 
Good, let it never be seen by any one excepting by him 
whom Thou wishest to examine it, so that this writing 
may not prevent my remaining buried in eternal contempt and 
forgetfulness of creatures. O my God, give this consola 
tion to Thy poor miserable slave." a 

A little farther on, having resumed her recital, and 
again crushed by the work, we read: " I proceed through 
1 M6moire, p. 289. 9 Ib. p. 344. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 163 

obedience, O my God, without any other design than 
that of satisfying Thee by the martyrdom which I suffer 
in penning these lines, every word of which seems to 
me a sacrifice. But mayest Thou be glorified by it 
eternally!" 

The same plaintive tone is heatd throughout her 
Memoire; the same contest is witnessed between humil 
ity and obedience. At one instant humility lays down 
the pen; at the next obedience makes her take it up. It 
was thus that was finished, in an incomparable glory of 
sanctity, the recital of the three revelations relative to 
the Heart of Jesus. We shall now make them known in 
Margaret Mary s own words. The Church has studied 
the triple recital with the severity she always brings to 
this kind of examination, and has solemnly declared 
their authenticity. 

FIRST REVELATION. 
December 27, 1673. 

The first of the three revelations took place, no one can 
doubt, on the feast of St. John the Evangelist, Decem 
ber 27, 1673. It was the same day on which, three hun 
dred and fifty-three years before, St. Gertrude had 
learned in a vision that if the well-beloved disciple had 
said nothing of the sacred pulsations of the Sacred 
Heart, it was because God reserved to Himself to speak 
of them at a time in which the world would begin to 
grow cold. The day could not have been better chosen 
for this revelation. We have the account of it written 
by Margaret Mary. She gives us the whole scene to 
the life. 

" Once," said she, "being before the Blessed Sacra 
ment and having a little more leisure than usual, I felt 
wholly filled with this Divine Presence, and so power 
fully moved by it that I forgot myself and the place in 
which I was. I abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, 
and yielded my heart to the power of His love, He 



164 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

made me rest for a long time on His divine breast, where 
He discovered to me the wonders of His love and the 
inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart, which He had 
hitherto kept hidden from me. Now He opened it to me for 
the first time, but in a way so real, so sensible, that it left 
me no room to doubt, though I am always in dread of 
deceiving myself." 

We see it was " the first time " that the Lord showed 
His Heart to Margaret; until then " He had always kept 
it hidden." And such is the character of this apparition, 
and the impression that she receives from it, that the 
humble virgin, ordinarily so timid, so distrustful of self, 
"could conceive no doubt of it." 

Jesus had then spoken; and " This," adds Margaret, 
"as it seems to me, is what passed: The Lord said to 
me, My Divine Heart is so passionately in love with 
men that it can no longer contain within itself the flames 
of its ardent charity. It must pour them out by thy 
means, and manifest itself to them to enrich them with 
its precious treasures, which contain all the graces of 
which they have need to be saved from perdition. He 
added: I have chosen thee as an abyss of unworthiness 
and ignorance to accomplish so great a design, so that 
all may be done by Me. 

Thus, according to the conditions of this first revefa- 
tion, the new devotion was going to be the grand effort 
of the Heart of Jesus, " passionately in love with men," 
and wishing at any cost to draw them from the abyss of 
perdition. Until then ordinary means had sufficed. 
But in the sad state in which the world was, Jesus could 
no longer " contain the flames of this burning charity 
in His Heart," which wished to save all men. His pierced 
side opened, and His Heart longed to come forth. It 
had as yet only shown itself in -cloisters and to chosen 
souls, and in showing it to them had made them faint 
from love. But now it wished to show itself to the 
1 M6moire, p. 325. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 165 

multitude, and Uy whether, in revealing the hidden 
secrets of love, it might succeed in melting the ice that 
was being heaped up in the midst of Christian people. 
Such was the sense o* the first apparition. 

Jesus said nothing else to Margaret Mary, excepting 
that, for the accomplishment of His design, He made use 
of her; not in spite of her weakness and ignorance, but 
rather on account of them, that all should be done by 
Himself. But when? how? in what manner? The 
Lord did not say, and Margaret Mary had neither the 
thought nor the strength to ask Him. 

Since, however, there was question of a public min 
istry, the Lord desired to leave her a living and unques 
tionable proof of the truth of what had just passed. 

Before disappearing, He asked \\ she desired to give 
Him her heart. But let her speak for herself: 

"He demanded my heart, and I supplicated Him to 
take it. He did so, and put it into His own Adorable 
Heart, in which He allowed me to see it as a little atom 
being consumed in that fiery furnace. Then, drawing 
it out like a burning flame in the form of a heart, He 
put it into the place whence He had taken it, saying: 
Behold, My beloved, a precious proof of My love. J 
inclose in thy heart a little spark of the most ardent 
flame of My love, to serve thee^as a heart and to con 
sume thee till thy last moment. He added: Until now 
thou hast taken only the name of My slave; henceforth 
thou shalt be called the well-beloved disciple of My 
Sacred Heart. " 

One can easily imagine what effect might be produced 
by such a favor in a creature already wholly inflamed 
with divine love. "After so great a grace," said she, 
"one that lasted so long and during which I knew not 
whether I was in heaven or on earth, I remained several 
days wholly inflamed, wholly inebriated. I was so out 
of myself that it was only by doing violence to myself J 
1 M6moire, p. 326. 



1 66 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

could utter a word. I was obliged to make so great an 
effort to eat and recreate that my strength was exhausted 
in my endeavor to endure my suffering." 

Again was she led to Mother Saumaise, but she could 
scarcely pronounce one word. " I experienced," she 
said, " so great a plenitude of God that I was not able 
to express myself to my Superioress as I wished." As 
to her Sisters, she experienced only one temptation; 
namely, to throw herself at their feet and confess to 
them her sins. " It would have been a great consolation 
to me," she says, " to have made my general confession 
aloud in the refectory, that my Sisters might see the 
depth of my corruption; for then they would attribute 
to me none of the graces I received." 2 

Besides this sentiment of profound humility, the first 
fruit of the luminous apparition, a sentiment that must 
necessarily be conceived by one that has rested on the 
breast of the Saviour (for astonishment, admiration, and 
love create humility), Margaret preserved a memento, 
or rather an ineffaceable mark, of divine love. She did 
not bear it visibly on her breast, like St. Francis of Assisi 
or St. Catharine of Siena, but all her life she retained 
an invisible wound in her side. "The pain of this 
wound," she said, " is so precious to me, causes me 
transports so lively, that it burns me alive, it consumes 
me." 5 This divine memorial did not grow faint with 
time, for the Lord renewed it every first Friday of the 
month, and again showed her His Heart. " The Sacred 
Heart," she said, " is shown me as a sun brilliant with 
sparkling light, whose burning rays fall direct on my 
heart. I then feel myself inflamed with such a fire that 
it seems about to reduce me to ashes." 

Such was the first act of this triple revelation of the 
Sacred Heart. One sees as yet only the principle and, 
as it were, the inspiration of this new devotion; but in 
what touching beauty ! A God forgotten by men, and 

1 Memoire, p. 326. * Ib. b Ib. p. 327. 4 Ib. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 167 

unable to resign Himself to such forgetfulness; despised 
by man, and wishing to punish him; hearkening to His 
anger, endeavoring to silence the voice of His love, and 
yet not succeeding; unable to contain within Himself 
the flames of His ardent charity, and yet not able to 
chastise His ungrateful creatures, He resolved to van 
quish them by force of tenderness, and for this end 
daily inventing new and most divine contrivances of love! 
After the splendors and benefits of creation came the 
annihilations of the crib. The crib is followed by the 
sorrows of the Cross; the Cross, by the Holy Eucharist ! 
Is there anything left? Yes; for we now behold the 
supreme effort of the Sacred Heart ! It is always the 
same law. Every new evidence of coldness on the part 
of man causes God to descend a degree in order to 
touch the heart from which He cannot succeed in detach 
ing Himself. 

The day following this lively and ineffaceable appari 
tion, in which Margaret Mary had learned two things, 
the first, that God could not contain in His Heart the 
secrets of His love; the second, that He would make 
use of her to reveal them to the world, the life of our 
saint resumed its accustomed course. Very nearly six 
months were granted her to recover from the profound 
impression just received, and she had much need of 
them. Six months of peace, recollection, silence, brill 
iant progress in humility and the love of God! Ana 
now, at the moment she least expected, comes the 
second revelation! More penetrating, more luminous 
than the first, it made a still deeper impression on her 
soul. She fell ill from the violent emotion it caused; so 
ill that all thought she must die. 

SECOND REVELATION. 

1674. 

This second revelation is the only one of which we 
know not the exact date. It certainly took place in 



1 68 Life of Blessed Margaret Ma jy Alacoque. 

1674, before the arrival at Paray of Father oela Colom- 
biere, who came in the autumn of this year. As the 
Blessed Sacrament was exposed, it could not be, accord 
ing to the custom of the times, other than the fea.U of 
the Visitation, or during the octave of Corpus Christi. 
On the other hand, it seems to follow from Margaret s 
account that it was on Friday, and the first Friday of 
the month. We think, therefore, that it was in the be 
ginning of June, and the Friday in the octave of Cor 
pus Christi. 

Let us near the Sister s recital: "Once when the 
Blessed Sacrament was exposed, my soul being ab- 
sorbed in extraordinary recollection, Jesus Christ, my 
sweet Master, presented Himself to me. He was brill 
iant with glory; His five wounds shone like five suns 
Flames darted forth from all parts of His sacred hu 
manity, but especially from His adorable breast, which* 
resembled a furnace, and which, opening, displayed to 
me His loving and amiable Heart, the living source of 
these flames." 

In recounting the first apparition, Margaret Mary hatf 
not described the adorable person of the Lord, because, 
probably, it had not the same glorious character as this 
one. It was a less royal, perhaps a more intimate, com 
munication, "lie made me," she says in speaking of 
the first, " rest a long time on His breast," which it 
might seem would agree net w r ell with the splendors, 
the flames that enveloped Jesus in the second appari 
tion. However, this difference in form corresponds to 
the difference of spirit in which they were made. Till 
that hour Jesus was the Friend, the Father, making a 
tender effort to save His children. Now He is the out 
raged Spouse, the unacknowledged King about to de 
mand reparation. Whilst Margaret, trembling with 
emotion, was contemplating Him, " He unfolded to me," 
she says, " the inexplicable wonders of His pure love, 
1 Memoire, p. 327. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 169 

and to what an excess He had carried it for the love of 
men, from whom He had received only ingratitude. 
This is, He said, much more painful to Me than all I 
suffered in My Passion. If men rendered Me some re 
turn of love, I should esteem little all I have done for 
them, and should wish, if such could be, to suffer it over 
again; but they meet My eager love with coldness and 
rebuffs. Do you, at least, said He in conclusion, con 
sole and rejoice Me, by supplying as much as you can 
for their ingratitude. " 

After having shown in the first revelation the true 
principle of the new devotion, namely, a love whose 
flames He could no longer confine in His Heart, Jesus 
now revealed its character. This devotion would be an 
amende honorable and an expiation for all the crimes of 
the world, a consolation for His forsaken Heart. He 
appealed to some chosen souls to come and supply at 
the foot of the altars for those that do not love Him; 
and, by their love and adoration, to render the homage 
He no longer receives from the multitude grown cold 
and indifferent. " Do thou, at least, * and in speaking 
thus the Lord addressed Himself to all pious souls, 
"give Me the consolation of beholding thee supplying 
for their ingratitude, as far as thou canst." 

Margaret excused herself on the plea of incapacity. 
"Fear not," said Jesus; " behold, here is wherewith to 
furnish all that is wanting to thee." " And at that 
moment," continued Margaret, " the Divine Heart being 
opened, there shot forth aflame so ardent that I thought 
I should be consumed by it." Admirable symbol of 
what this new devotion was going to become in the 
Church, of that universal re-warming of hearts of which 
we shall try later to trace the consoling picture! 

Thoroughly penetrated with this burning flame, and 
unable longer to endure the fire, Margaret implored our 
Saviour to have pity on her weakness. " Fear nothing," 
1 Memoire, p. 327. 



1 70 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

said He to her; " I shall be thy strength. Listen only 
to what I desire of thee to prepare thee for the accom 
plishment of My designs." Then the Lord asked two 
things of her: the first, to communicate every first Fri 
day of each month to make Him the amende honorable; 
the second, to rise between eleven o clock and midnight 
on the night between Thursday and Friday of every 
week, and to prostrate for an hour with her face to the 
ground, in expiation of the sins of men, and to console 
His Heart for that general desertion, to which the weak 
ness of the apostles in the Garden of Olives had been 
only a slight prelude. 

"During all this time," says Margaret Mary, "I was 
unconscious, I knew not where I was. Some of the 
Sisters came to take me away, and, seeing that I could 
neither reply nor support myself on my feet, they led 
me to our Mother, who found me quite out of myself, 
trembling and as if on fire." When Margaret Mary told 
her what had just taken place, whether she believed or 
not, or whether she feigned not to believe it, Mother de 
Saumaise humbled her as deeply as she could " which 
gave me extreme pleasure, caused me inconceivable 
joy," says Margaret Mary; " for I felt myself such a crim 
inal, I was filled with such confusion, that, however 
rigorous might be the treatment bestowed upon me, it 
would still have seemed to me too lenient." 

" The fire that devoured me," continues Margaret 
Mary in a style that grows eloquent with the subject, 
" brought on continual fever; but I rejoiced too much in 
suffering to complain of it. I never spoke of it but 
when my strength was completely gone. Never have I 
felt so much consolation. My whole body was racked 
by extreme pain, and this relieved a little the parching 
thirst I felt to suffer. This devouring fire could neither 
be fed nor satisfied but with the wood of the cross; 
namely, with contempt of all kinds, humiliations, and 
1 Merpoire, p. 328. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 1 7 1 

pains. Never was my bodily suffering equal to what I 
experienced from not suffering enough. The Sisters 
thought I would surely die." 

Dr. Billiet, the attendant physician, declared that 
Blessed Margaret Mary had sixty consecutive fevers 
that resisted every remedy employed to moderate their 
ardor. Mother de Saumaise, very much perplexed, at 
last resorted to the following expedient. She ap 
proached the bed of the apparently dying Sister, and 
commanded her in the name of obedience to ask her 
restoration of God, adding that she would recognize it 
as a sign of the supernatural character of all that had 
taken place in her regard. She would then, she said, 
permit her to make the Communion of the first Friday 
of every month, and the hour s prayer during the night 
between Thursday and Friday. Margaret experienced 
strong repugnance to asking a termination of her suf 
ferings, fearing, she said, " to be heard." But at the 
word obedience, she no longer hesitated. Scarcely had 
she uttered a short prayer before her fever fell, her 
pulse beat less rapidly, and the astonished physician 
pronounced her cured. There was, however, little need 
for the doctor to make this assertion, for the saint 
arose; and from that day the Sisters remarked a total 
change in her health. Mother de Saumaise did not re 
sist the voice of God. She granted Margaret Mary the 
permission to communicate the first Friday of the 
month, and for the future to rise on the night between 
Thursday and Friday. 

Meanwhile Mother de Saumaise became more and 
more embarrassed. This cure, which looked like a 
miracle and which perhaps was one, caused her to 
reflect most seriously on the propriety of acknowl 
edging the incontestable sanctity of Sister Margaret. 
But, on the other hand, Margaret was very young, 
hardly six-and-twenty, and counted but two years of 
religious life. The visions that she related were, more- 



1 72 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

over, very extraordinary. Was not some illusion to be 
feared? Finally, Mother de Saumaise resolved to con 
sult others; and breaking silence for the first time, she 
conferred on the subject with some religious whose 
names we do not know " learned people," say our 
old Memoires. But whether Margaret, so timid and so 
humble, was herself not understood, or whether the 
advisers of Mother de Saumaise entertained certain 
prejudices on the score of supernatural manifestations, 
a thing not unfrequent even among priests and pious 
religious, her conferences led to the conclusion that in 
Margaret Mary s case there was much imagination, a 
little natural temperament, and perhaps even some illu 
sion of the evil spirit, so skilfully disguised that the 
good Sister could not perceive it. 

The perplexity of Margaret s judges was thus increased 
instead of diminished. Condemned by her Superiors 
and confessors, the poor Sister knew not which way to 
turn. "I made," said she, "every effort to resist my 
interior attractions, believing that I was assuredly in 
error. But I could not succeed. I no longer doubted 
that I was abandoned, since I was told that it was not 
the Spirit of God that governed me; and yet it was 
impossible for me to resist the Spirit that moved me." 1 
One day, when drooping under the weight of this con 
tinued anxiety, and pouring out her plaintive wail at 
the feet of her Lord, she seemed to hear a voice saying 
to her: " Have patience, and await My servant." She 
knew not what the words meant, but they poured a little 
balm into her soul, and she felt that God would come 
to her assistance in His own good time. 2 

Things were in this state when Mother de Saumaise 
announced to her Community one day that a pious con 
ference would be given them by a religious of the Society 
of Jesus who had just arrived at Paray, and who had the 
reputation of speaking eloquently of the things of God. 
1 Contemp., p. 81. 2 Memoire, p. 345. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 1 73 

His name was Father de la Colombiere. We are aston 
ished that a man who, in spite of his youth, was already 
so celebrated, and who from his entrance into the 
Society had given promise of attaining high renown, 
should be sent to so small a place as Paray. We read 
in the sequel the divine purpose of this sending. Father 
de la Colombiere came in time for the greatest perplex 
ities (for it was very likely the morrow of the second 
revelation, so badly understood by " the learned people" 
of Paray, and the eve of the third and last, the most 
important of all). He was going, in few words, to evoke 
light in the midst of darkness. 

Sister Margaret Mary went with the other Sisters to 
the conference, Father de la Colombiere s name not 
having made upon her the slightest impression. But 
he had hardly opened his lips when she distinctly heard 
these words: " Behold him whom I send to thee." 
Accustomed to await God s moments without antici 
pating them, scarcely had she rested her eyes on the 
Father when she remitted to God, who had sent him, 
the care of making her known to him. 

The Ember days came. Father de la Colombiere 
having been deputed to hear the confessions of the 
Community, Margaret Mary remarked that, although 
he had never seen her, yet he spoke as if he knew what 
was passing in her soul. He detained her a long time, 
and even offered to see her again the next day, in order 
to receive a thorough manifestation of her interior state. 
These advances could not come more opportunely. 
But Margaret did not wish to open her heart to him; 
and as to the second proposition, she replied humbly 
and timidly that she would do what obedience ordered 
her. 

Very probably it was the venerable Mother de Sau- 
maise who had spoken to Father de la Colombiere of 
Margaret s state, that she might be able to add the opin 
ion and advice of a pious and eloquent man to those 

MONTREAL Fr 

146 ELEURV STR:;L 



174 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

that she already had: though perhaps it was God Him. 
self who had thus enlightened His servant, that He might 
extend to His faithful spouse the direction of which she 
had so great need. Be this as it may, a few days later 
the Father returned and asked for Sister Margaret 
Mary. "Although I knew," said she, " that it was the 
will of God for me to speak to him, yet I felt extreme 
repugnance to answering his summons." Her repug 
nance, however, lasted but a moment. Gained by the 
piety and sweetness of the holy religious, and interiorly 
excited by grace, Margaret Mary confided to him the 
secrets of her heart. The interview was long, and Sister 
Margaret Mary came forth from it enlightened and con 
soled. " He assured me," she said, " that there was 
nothing to be feared in the guidance of this Spirit, inas 
much as it did not withdraw me from obedience; that I 
ought to follow its movements, and abandon my whole 
being to it, to be sacrificed and immolated according to 
its good pleasure. He admired the great goodness of 
our God in not withdrawing His favors in the face of so 
much resistance, taught me to esteem the gifts of God, 
and to receive with respect and humility the frequent 
communications and familiar entertainments with which 
He favored me. The Father added that my thanks 
giving for so great goodness ought to be continual. 
When I had told him that my soul was pursued so 
closely by the Sovereign Goodness without regard to 
time or place, that I could not pray vocally without 
doing myself violence so great that I sometimes re 
mained with my mouth open unable to pronounce a 
word, and that this happened particularly whilst saying 
the Rosary, he told me to make such efforts no more, 
and to confine myself to my vocal prayers of obligation. 
When I told him something of the special caresses and 
loving union of soul I received from my Well-beloved, 
and which I cannot describe here, he replied that I had 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart. 1 75 

great reason to humble myself, and to admire with him 
the wonderful mercy of God in my regard." 

We have quoted this entire page, because in very 
brief form it contains true light. There is something 
elevated, sensible, sweet, and pious in it. It is, besides, 
the great word of Father de la Colombiere. He did, 
undoubtedly, utter many others. He preached long, he 
made known God s truth in France and England. But, 
notwithstanding all this, he was most probably created, 
led from afar, divinely prepared by a chain of hidden 
marvels expressly to speak this word. That done, he 
retires, his mission finished. He had played his part. 
Assuredly there is none either more glorious or more 
useful; for in enlightening one such soul he has enlight 
ened millions. He contributed largely to the good of 
the Church by giving her bark tossed by a frightful 
tempest the stroke of the oar that was to enable her to 
clear rugged obstacles. But Father de la Colombiere 
did not retire and leave his work unfinished. We shall 
see him again at the decisive moment of the third reve 
lation, when he will once more sustain and enlighten 
the Sister. He will study seriously this last and highest 
manifestation of God s will, after which he will be the 
first to prostrate with our saint and consecrate himself 
to the Sacred Heart. 



THIRD AND LAST REVELATION. 

June 16, 1675. 

It was on June 16, 1675, tnat tne * ast of the grand reve 
lations relative to the Sacred Heart took place. It was 
toclose the cycle of those solemn disclosures. Until then 
the humble virgin had received from the Lord only per 
sonal favors, very like those with which other holy souls 
had already been favored. He had only demanded of 
her some individual practices of devotion. Now, how- 
1 Memoire, p. 346, 



i 76 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ever, the hour was come for Him to invest her with her 
grand, public mission. 

During the octave of the feast of the Blessed Sacra 
ment, June 16, 1675, Margaret Mary was on her knees 
before the choir-grate, her eyes fixed on the tabernacle. 
She had just received " some of the unmeasured graces 
of His love." We have no particulars of these graces. 
Suddenly the Lord appeared on the altar and discovered 
to her His Heart. 

" Behold," said He to her, "this Heart which has so 
loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhaust 
ing and consuming itself, in order to testify its love. 
In return, I receive from the greater part only ingrat 
itude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the 
coldness and contempt they have for Me in this sacra 
ment of love. And what is most painful to Me," 
added the Saviour, in a tone that went to tiie Sis 
ter s heart, " is that they are hearts consecrated to Me." 
Then He commanded her to have established in the 
Church a particular feast to honor His Sacred Heart. 
" It is for this reason I ask thee that the first Friday 
after the octave of the Blessed Sacrament be appro 
priated to a special feast, to honor My Heart by com 
municating on that day, and making reparation for 
the indignity that it has received. And I promise that 
My Heart shall dilate to pour out abundantly the in 
fluences of its love on all that will render it this honor 
or procure its being rendered." 1 

This was the last revelation, and the most celebrated 
of all. Justly the most celebrated, for all that regards 
the Divine Heart of Jesus is contained in it. Its prin 
ciple is no other than the overflowing love of God, love 
making a grand effort to overcome evil; its end, to be 
come a public devotion, having been so long a private 
one; and, lastly, its effects, a new effusion of divine love 
1 M6moire, p. 355. 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart, i 77 

on the Church, and more particularly on the pious souls 
that become its apostles and propagators. 

But whether the Lord, to leave her the full use of her 
natural faculties at a moment so serious, had concealed 
a little the splendor of His divine presence, or whether 
Margaret Mary, reassured by Father de la Colombiere, 
had banished all fear and abandoned her soul entirely 
to the happiness of contemplating her Divine Master, 
we do not know. But at the close of this third revela 
tion no trace of the violent emotion that had followed 
the first two was perceived. The humble virgin is 
recollected, attentive, happy. Although astonished at 
such a mission, (for who was she to establish a feast in 
the Church, she who could not succeed in convincing 
her Superiors?) but one \vord escaped her: "Lord, how 
can I ?" To which the Lord answered by telling her to 
address herself to that servant of God who had been 
sent to her " expressly for the accomplishment of this 
design." 

Margaret Mary did, indeed, recur to Father de la 
Colombiere, and confide to him this third revelation. 
The venerable priest asked for a written account of it, 
that he might be able to study it at leisure. We shall 
see later on with what religious respect he preserved 
the document, fie examined the revelation attentively 
before God, and, enlightened from on high, declared to 
Margaret that she could rely on it, for without doubt it 
came from Heaven. Thus reassured, Margaret Mary 
no longer hesitated. She knelt before the Divine Heart 
of Jesus, solemnly consecrated herself to it, and thus ren 
dered it the first and one of the purest acts of homage 
that it was ever to receive on earth or in heaven. Feather 
de la Colombiere, wishing to unite with her, also con 
secrated himself to the Heart of Jesus. It was Friday, 
June 2ist, the day after the octave of the Blessed Sacra 
ment; the day that had been designated by the Lord to 
1 Memoire, p. 355. 



178 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

be forever the feast-day of His Adorable Heart. Thus 
He received, in the person of a holy priest and of an 
humble virgin, the first-fruits of those acts of adoration 
soon to be rendered Him by all mankind. 

Thus ended this glorious drama, at the same time 
three and one, of the revelations of the Sacred Heart. 
Thus was successively developed, in profound and mys 
terious order, that incomparable vision vouchsafed to one 
of the most humble of virgins. And that which in silence 
and ecstasy she had three times consecutively beheld in 
that chapel, through that grate, on that altar, the Church 
also was going to see. She examined this testimony, 
this recital, forced by obedience from the saint s touch 
ing modesty; she declared them true and authentic; 
and, following the example of the humble virgin, she 
prostrated before the Sacred Heart. 

What the Lord asked has been done. The faithful 
flock from all quarters on the first .Friday of every 
month to kneel before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and 
to make reparation for the incomprehensible ingratitude 
of creatures whom He has passionately loved. In every 
region, also, are found Christians wives, mothers, 
younggirls, priests and virgins consecrated to God who 
rise in the night between Thursday and Friday, who 
come to watch with Him, to weep with Him, and some 
times even to impress on their flesh the sacred marks 
of His Passion. Everywhere, in fine, throughout the 
Catholic Church, the Friday following the octave of the 
Blessed Sacrament is a solemnity consecrated to the 
contemplation of the tenderness, the devotedness of the 
best of all hearts. 

But let us continue our recital. As yet only one part 
of our Saviour s will on this august subject is known to 
us. We shall see others appear, and we shall behold 
their realization. Time is undoubtedly necessary. It 
is necessary also to the sun on a hazy autumn day for 
jt to pierce the fog that obscures the horizon; but 



The Revelations of the Sacred Heart, i 79 

though slow to appear, its sweet light is none the less 
loved or desired. So it is, likewise, with the Adorable 
Heart of Jesus in our own sad times. It is but two 
centuries since it appeared on the horizon. Let us not 
complain. Already the greater part of the clouds are 
dissipated. The hour is approaching in which it will 
illumine the heavens and rejuvenate the earth. 



180 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER X. 

ALMIGHTY GOD PREPARES THE CONVENT OF PARAY 

TO BECOME THE SANCTUARY OF THE SACRED 

HEART. 

1675-1678. 

" Sanctificamini; eras enim faciet Dominus inter vos mirabilia." 
" Be ye sanctified, for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among 
you." Josue iii. 5. 



EHOLD Margaret Mary invested with a mission 
the most formidable! She who shut herself up 
in a cloister as in a tomb, to flee forever from 
the eyes of men; who so carefully hid herself therein, 
was now commissioned to address the whole world, to 
turn all eyes toward the Divine Heart of Jesus, hitherto 
known only to some chosen souls. She was even to 
petition the Sovereign Pontiff for a new feast to be in 
scribed on the cycle of the Christian year. 

To accomplish such a mission, what support had 
God prepared for her? There was at Meaux a bishop 
who had reached the pinnacle of glory. He was Mar 
garet s countryman. Had he learned from her the 
mysteries of the Heart of Jesus, he would have taught 
them to the world with such brilliancy of genius, with 
common-sense so good, that he would in advance have 
overthrown the stupid objections of the eighteenth 
century. At Cambray, not far from Meaux, was an 
other bishop who, though lacking the genius of Bossuet, 
had, by the tenderness of his soul, the purity of his 
heart, the noble elevation of his affections, admirably 
inculcated this doctrine of love so suited to charm 
a heart like his own. Again, there was at Paris an old 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 181 

man who, like St. John, died exhausted by the ardor of 
his charity. He knew nothing better in his green old 
age than to repeat the words of the Prophet of Patmos: 
41 My little children, love one another." This was St. 
Vincent of Paul, a worthy apostle of the Sacred Heart. 
In exhaling this charming devotion with his last sigh, 
he rendered it forever venerable. St. Vincent had had 
in his school two young priests, M. Olier and Father de 
Condren, to whom God had confided the great mission 
of reanimating the hearts of the clergy and rekindling 
charity in the breasts of those who were to be the 
apostles and missionaries of the devotion. It would 
seem that, if they themselves had added this light to 
their sublime ideas on the priesthood, they would have 
found in it strength invincible, and it would have added 
another charm to their grand life-work. 

But by one of those inscrutable designs of Divine 
Providence, met at every step in the history of the 
Church, in which we see God making it a delight to 
triumph in weakness, not one of those illustrious stars 
rose upon the horizon of Margaret Mary s humble 
sphere. The only man, one not illustrious, though 
pious and eloquent, who appeared for one instant at 
Paray, departed almost as soon as he came, as if God 
had sent him only to calm Margaret Mary s anxiety 
and then abandon her to her own weakness. 

Shortly after the sublime revelation of which we have 
spoken, Father de la Colombiere received orders to go 
to England as almoner to the Duchess of York, Marie 
de Modena, a Catholic princess espoused to the heir- 
presumptive of the crown of England. The holy priest 
set out in haste; not, however, before he wrote a word 
to Margaret, recommending her to abandon herself to 
God and to the practice of holy humility.. In answer 
he received a prophetic line, in which she stimulated 
him to courage in the midst of difficulties, meekness 
toward his future enemies, and humility in success. 



1 82 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Atacoque. 

Such were the words of their adieux. The saint now 
found herself alone in the face of her perilous mission. 
For a moment she was alarmed and troubled; but, calm 
ing her fears, she retired into the depths of her soul, 
and heard a voice saying to her: " Will not God suffice 
for thee ? " 

It might seem that an hour more badly chosen could 
not be found in which to take from Margaret Mary the 
enlightened guide so lately given. The time was ap 
proaching in which, called to proclaim to the world the 
Ineffable mysteries of the Heart of Jesus, she was to 
learn them herself by bitter experience. The Heart 
of Jesus, crowned with thorns and pierced with a 
lance, was about to impress upon her its own living 
image. We recall with what delight God inundated 
her soul during her novitiate and on the day of her 
profession; delights tempered, however, with the 
assurance of a future cross that, without special help 
from God, she would be unable to support. Far from 
shrinking from it, Margaret had never ceased to plead 
for it. It came at last. She was by it to be made 
worthy of Him who had promised it, of Him from 
whom she had so earnestly petitioned it. 

Physical sufferings were the first intimation of its 
presence. The little health she had, vanished. She 
could but languish in her misery; and some strange 
attendant circumstances threw around her state of 
suffering an air of mystery. One morning, when draw 
ing water from the well in the middle of the yard, the 
Ducket, after being filled, slipped from her hands and 
fell with velocity proportioned to its weight. At the 
same time, the long iron handle that served to raise it 
swung violently round and round, and struck Margaret 
on the head. She fell to the ground, several of her 
teeth knocked out, her gums cut and bleeding. Her 
sisters ran to raise her, bruised and livid, covered with 

ire, p. 356, 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 183 

blood, but smiling through it all. The terrible pain 
consequent upon this accident threw light upon a vision 
she had had a short time before. The Sacred Host had 
appeared to her resplendent as the sun, and in the 
centre of that glory was Our Lord holding a crown of 
thorns in His hand. He laid the crown on Margaret s 
head with the words: " My daughter, receive this crown 
as a sign of that which shall soon be given thee to 
render thee conformed to Me." And, in truth, from 
that day Margaret s forehead was encircled with a band 
of fire. She could rest her head not even on her pillow. 
But she made no complaint. Courageously and joy 
ously she endured this conformity with her thorn- 
crowned Spouse. " I confess," she said, " that I am 
more grateful to my Sovereign Master for this precious 
crown than if He had presented me the diamonds of 
the greatest monarchs of the world; and this so much 
the more, as no one can take it from me. Of necessity, 
it often affords me long hours of wakefulness in which 
to converse with the only Object of my love; for, like 
my good Master, who could not rest His adorable head 
on the bed of the cross, I am unable to rest mine on 
my pillow." 

Margaret, at the same time, felt greatly increase that 
mysterious thirst from which she had already suffered, 
and which nothing could assuage. It was caused either 
by the fire that consumed and dried up her blood, or by 
God s desire to give her this new resemblance to her 
crucified Lord. Obedience alone could prevail on her 
to take some relief. " Reflecting," says Mother de 
Levis-Chateaumorand, " that Jesus last suffering on the 
cross was a burning thirst, Margaret resolved to abstain 
from drinking anything from Thursday till Saturday of 
every week. At another time, she passed fifty days 
without taking any liquid; and when, by orders of 
Superiors, she was obliged to refresh herself a little, 



184 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

water, tepid and most disagreeable, was, she said, much 
too good for her." 

Let us not forget, in this enumeration of Margaret s 
sufferings, that invisible wound received at the first of 
the three grand revelations. Our Lord having darted 
to the heart of His servant " a little spark of the most 
active flames of His Heart," she felt a mysterious pain 
in her side, which increased on the first Friday of 
every month. "This wound," Margaret tells us, 
"whose pain is so precious to me, causes me suffering 
so intense that it consumes me, burns me alive." 2 

But this was not all. After giving her His crown of 
thorns, after having communicated to her something of 
the thirst He endured in His agony, and some portion 
also of the sacred wound of His side, Jesus put the 
finishing stroke to His work by appearing to her with a 
cross in His hand. He said: " Receive, my daughter, 
the cross I give thee. Plant it in thy^ heart. It will 
cause thee to experience the most cruel torments, mys 
terious and continued." From that day Margaret be 
came, in fact, a compound of suffering that made her 
an object of pity, a living image of the Heart of Jesus, 
wounded, bleeding, and crowned with thorns. " In 
truth," said a holy bishop, " neither her feet, hands, nor 
side have received the visible marks of her Saviour s 
wounds, and never was she favored with those miracu 
lous stigmata that glorified St. Francis of Assisi and 
many other saints. But her conformity with the Divine 
Master, though more hidden, was not less real." She 
endured a band of fire around her head; a thirst that 
nothing could assuage; a pain in the side from the 
stroke of a lance; and a cross so heavy, so crushing in 
its weight, that sometimes, in spite of her energy and 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Mother de Levis-Chateaumorand. 

2 Memoire, p. 326. 

3 Pastoral of Mgr. de Marguerie, Bishop of Autun, for the Beatifica 
tion of Blessed Margaret Mary, p. 19. Autun, 1865. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 185 

her avidity for suffering, she was tempted to lay it 
down. But at such moments the Lord interposed by 
stretching Himself upon it. One day, for instance, that 
she was ill and wished to relieve herself by changing 
her position from one side to the other, He appeared to 
her and, in ineffable accents, said: "When I was carry 
ing My cross, I did not change it from side to side." 

God thus accomplished in His servant what He had 
promised when, at the beginning of her novitiate, she 
placed herself at His feet like a piece of canvas and He 
had engaged to delineate in her the features of His 
suffering life. " Like Veronica s veil," continues the 
holy bishop just quoted, " Margaret Mary received the 
impress of Jesus features bruised and humbled." ! 
This was necessary; for there is no perfection, even 
human, no intellectual pre-eminence, no moral grandeur, 
and, with still greater reason, no sanctity, apart from 
suffering. But above all was it necessary for Margaret 
Mary on account of the mission confided to her. How 
would she be able to understand the Heart of Jesus, 
that furnace of immolation and sacrifice by love; how 
would she be able to speak of it to the world, had she 
not begun to make of her own heart a furnace of love 
and, consequently, of immolation and sorrow ? 

Although God assisted her by multiplied trials, by 
sacrifices and tribulations that, far from ceasing, were 
ever on the increase, it was wholly insufficient to satisfy 
her desire to love, to suffer, and to die. " From her 
ardent love for Jesus Christ," says Mother de Levis- 
Chateaumorand, " proceeded that other for contempt 
and sufferings, which she called her daily bread. And 
although God acted liberally toward her on this point, 
she was never satisfied, but always hungering. She 
was never sufficiently humbled, never sufficiently 
crushed. A day without this food was to her a day of 
1 Pastoral of Mgr. de Marguerie, p. 16, 



1 86 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

special suffering. Had not obedience stayed her, she 
would have fallen into excesses." 

" Margaret s love for pain and suffering," say her 
contemporaries, " was insatiable. With St. Teresa, she 
desired to suffer or to die. She declared that she would 
willingly live till the day of judgment, provided she 
might always have something to suffer for God; but 
that to live a single day without suffering would be in 
tolerable to her." 2 Again, she said that she was " de 
voured by two insatiable fevers: one for holy Com 
munion, in which she received the God of her heart and 
the Heart of her God; the other for suffering, contempt, 
and humiliation. " 

Whilst these things were going on in the soul of 
Blessed Margaret Mary, others were being prepared for 
her in the interior of the convent, and they were to 
furnish ample food for that hunger after immolation 
which tormented her. To her Sisters her life became 
more and more of an enigma. They understood nothing. 
Instead of dissipating, the clouds that overshadowed 
their mind grew heavier; and Margaret found around 
her only doubts, suspicion, contradictions. Let us note 
well what, in 1675, our humble Margaret was to her 
Sisters, the religious*of Paray. God had just conferred 
on her an admirable mission, and an inestimable honor, 
in making her the confidant of the anguish and suffer 
ings of His Sacred Heart; but the Sisters knew nothing 
of it. Not one word from Father de la Colombiere, 
Mother de Saumaise, nor, for still greater reason, from 
Margaret herself, betrayed the secret. The Sisters 
knew of her only what they saw; that is, hours of prayer 
prolonged beyond those of the Community; rising in the 
night, permitted, undoubtedly, by the Superioress, but 
extraordinary in the Visitation; customs that seemed 
singular, as that of working on her knees, or others that 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Mother de Levis-Chateaumorand. 
2 Contemp., p. 141. 3 Ib. 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 187 

astonished without giving light, as the fainting or 
swooning that took place in the choir, and necessitated 
her being carried out by the Sisters; and, in fine, what 
appeared yet more serious, frequent conferences with 
the Superioress, with Father de la Colombiere, and with 
extraordinary confessors. Though not desiring such 
interviews, Margaret Mary was obliged to hold them. 
All this was to the Sisters inexplicable, and very natu> 
rally brought to their lips such remarks as these: " Why 
does our dear Sister do nothing like anyone else? Why 
ambition such singularities ?" 

To all this must be added the strange absorption of 
which we have spoken, which increased every day and 
rendered Margaret Mary more and more incapable of 
special duties. Her Superioress had tried her skill as 
infirmarian, but without marked success, although her 
goodness, zeal, and devotedness were there displayed to 
all, and her charity found vent in such acts of heroism 
that our readers could not endure the relation of them. 
She had been tried in the kitchen, but that proved even 
a greater failure, for the dishes fell from her hands. 
The admirable humility with which she repaired her 
awkwardness did not prevent such accidents from being 
very prejudicial to the order and regularity that ought 
to reign in a Community. She was next placed in the 
boarding-school. There she was loved by the little girls, 
who, venerating her as a saint, even clipped off pieces of 
her habit. But her preoccupation of mind prevented nec 
essary vigilance. Poor dear Sister! In 1675, even more 
than in 1672, she lived not on earth; and so they were 
forced to let her live in heaven! Join to this her strange 
maladies, with their sudden cures and as sudden re 
lapses, incomprehensible to the physicians and still more 
so to the Sisters, and then let us ask, should not one 
be astonished ? Why not say: But may not the imagi 
nation play an active part in all this? Is not she of 
whom we speak laboring under an ill-regulated tempera- 



1 88 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ment ? Is she not perhaps the victim of illusion? 
Vainly was Margaret Mary thus interrogated. Her 
answers, vague and unsatisfactory, afforded no light to 
the members of the Community. Some said that Sister 
Margaret Mary was under delusion. They even accused 
her of having won over Mother de Saumaise and Father 
de la Colombiere, and of imparting to them a share in 
her delusions. Some went even farther, and asked if 
she were not possessed by the devil; whilst others 
sprinkled holy water when they passed her. One ad 
vantage of this diversity of judgment, which God per 
mitted as formerly the incredulity of St. Thomas, was 
to place in clearer light the divine origin of the revela 
tions on the Sacred Heart. But it had, too, its dis 
advantages, for it was the occasion of faults, little mur 
murs, and words contrary to charity. Among some of 
the Sisters it gave rise, also, to obstinate blindness 
touching the ways of God, and to the forming of par 
ties, a circumstance well calculated to render the con 
vent of Paray wholly unworthy to become the sanctuary 
of the Sacred Heart. All this led to a singular result, 
until now very badly understood, and which has been 
strangely exaggerated by Mgr. Languet, Margaret 
Mary s first biographer. He had received the recital 
from some aged religious who, unable to forgive them 
selves the part they had taken in the affair, magnified 
the injury they had done their blessed Sister, ft is now 
our duty to re-establish the truth and explain its grand 
signification. 

When about to give His Law to the people on Mount 
Sinai, God ordered them to purify themselves, because 
"To-morrow," He said to them through Moses, "the 
Lord will do wonders among you." Again, before be 
ginning His ministry at Jerusalem, the Lord, wishing 
to inaugurate it by the purification of the Temple, drove 
from it all those that dishonored its sanctity. Thus at 
the moment of confiding to Paray the treasure of the 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 189 

Sacred Heart, Almighty God resolved to demand of it 
a solemn expiation of all the faults that had been there 
committed, especially in regard to Hisservanc. Behold 
how this was done: 

On the 2ist of November of every year, the feast of 
the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple, 
the religious of the Visitation renew their vows at holy 
Mass, having prepared for that solemn act by a little 
retreat and some penitential exercises. On November 
20, 1677, when the Sisters went at eight o clock in the 
evening to take their collation in the refectory for they 
fast on that day they were much astonished to see 
Blessed Margaret enter, or rather drag herself in, fall 
on her knees in the middle of the floor, and there, vio 
lently agitated, her eyes full of tears, make unavailing 
efforts to speak. She was out of herself, she trembled 
in every limb, and uttered from time to time the words: 
"My God, my God, have pity on me!" After vainly 
trying to force some words from her, the Sisters con 
ducted her to the Superioress, Mother de Saumaise, who 
was at the time ill in the infirmary. Margaret Mary, 
still in a transport of sorrow, and perfectly overwhelmed 
with grief, appeared before her. She was questioned 
as to what was the matter with her; but she could 
say nothing, until the Superioress, who knew that 
obedience alone could unseal her lips, ordered her to 
speak. Then came the startling announcement that 
God was displeased with the Community; that He had 
determined to punish it, unless Margaret herself con 
sented to be a victim in its stead and endure the chas 
tisements He had prepared for it. She told them that, 
frightened at the sight of such humiliations and suffer 
ings, she had long resisted; that since the day on which 
He had said to her, " Thou must become a victim of 
immolation to My Heart, to avert the chastisements in 
store," and on which she had hesitated through fear, 
God had not ceased to pursue her; that again, in the 



190 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



morning, God s anger was shown her in a terrible 
ner, and He had said to her: " It is hard for thee to 
kick against the goad of My justice." In the same 
spirit He added: "Since thou dost make so much re 
sistance to humiliations, I shall give them to thee double; 
and instead of a secret immolation, I demand of thee a 
public sacrifice accompanied by the most humiliating 
circumstances." It was for this that Margaret Mary 
had dragged herself to the refectory to make aloud on 
the spot the sacrifice that God had demanded of her for 
the sins of the Community; but the words had died on 
her lips. She had fainted in terror and confusion under 
the eye of the irritated God who was pursuing her. 
All this was told to the Superioress with sighs and sobs, 
with a voice and demeanor that excited pity. 

Mother de Saumaise, who knew the sublime traditions 
of the Sacred Heart, who doubted not their truth, and 
who was daily expecting God to make them known to 
the Community, was not astonished that He wished 
it to be purified, that it might deserve to be the first 
sanctuary of that Adorable Heart. She sent at once 
for the Sister Assistant, and told her to say to the Sisters 
that God was angry with them, and that to appease 
Him every one must go to her cell and take a discipline 
in expiation of the sins of the Community. 

If, in imposing this penance, the Superioress had been 
able to give the reason for it, namely, the necessity of 
purifying the place in which God was going to illus 
trate the wonders of His love, there would have escaped 
from the Sisters a cry of answering love. But Mother 
de Saumaise, not feeling herself obliged to speak more 
at large, kept silence, and thus subjected the whole 
Community to a severe trial. That apparition of Mar 
garet Mary in the refectory, her tears, her choking sobs, 
her cries, " Have pity, have pity, my God!" followed by 
the long conference with the Superioress, in which she 
announced that God was dissatisfied, that the Com- 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 191 

munity was not sufficiently holy, that it should be puri 
fied by penance, all this to-day, when the blessed 
Sister appears before us with an aureola on her brow, 
this command on the part of God to purify the future 
sanctuary of the Sacred Heart is beautiful and full of 
signification; but at the time of which we speak it was 
far from being so. Margaret Mary was young, scarcely 
eight-and-twenty, only yesterday professed, giving les 
sons to her Sisters, to the venerable Mother by whom 
she had so recently been received! Such conduct, to 
say the least of it, was certainly singular. However, 
such were the piety and fervor of this Community, of 
which Mother Greyfie said, "This dear Paray is the 
Tabor of Superiors, on account of the obedience that 
therein reigns," that the Sisters retired in silence to their 
cells, and performed without murmur the painful ex 
piation imposed upon them, the reason of which they 
did not even ask. Some only, called by duty to the in 
firmary, or a few whose dissatisfaction brought them to 
Mother de Saumaise, found Margaret Mary there trem 
bling and still overcome by her feelings. They ap 
proached and questioned her, but her silence only in 
creased their chagrin. As the hour of retiring had 
sounded, and the saintly Sister was unable to go to her 
cell, they carried, or rather they dragged, her thither, 
plying her meanwhile with questions in which there 
may have been some small dash of irony. As they 
knew nothing of the mysterious sufferings of their holy 
companion, some of them proposed that a physician 
should be called in, whilst others retorted that to have 
recourse to holy water would be all-sufficient. How 
many took part in this scene ? Five at most; and were 
we to raise the veil, we might almost tell their names. 
They were Sisters by no means relaxed and tepid, as 
has been asserted, but souls pious and even fervent. 
Their only fault was a little too narrow an attachment 
1 Memoire of Mother Greyfie. 



Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

to the letter of the law. Dreading innovations of any 
kind, they interpreted the word of St. Francis de Sales 
in a servile manner, and thought that instead of thus 
disturbing the quiet and good order of the convent, 
their Sister would do far better simply to follow what 
is prescribed. 

For a proof of what we say, as also of their own piety, 
we have only to see them at a later period kneeling be 
fore Mgr. Languet, and humbly accusing themselves of 
their share in the scene of that memorable night. This 
they did with a trifle of holy exaggeration, thus mis 
leading him as an historian. The next morning, also, 
distressed at having broken the " great silence," and, in 
-their excitement^ of having allowed some words contrary 
to charity to escape them, they asked to go to confes 
sion before holy Mass. On their return from holy 
Communion, Margaret Mary heard the Lord saying to 
her: " My daughter, the peace is concluded, and the 
sanctity of My justice is satisfied." The temple had 
been purified. 

This sublime act, the signification of which can escape 
no one, and which was none other than the divine puri 
fication of the convent of Paray before the day on which 
Jesus would make of it the first sanctuary of His Divine 
Heart, was the last act of the drama in which we shall 
see appear the venerable Mother de Saumaise. Her six 
years of government were drawing to a close, and 
shortly after, she left Paray to return to Dijon. She 
had deserved well of God and the Church by her intel 
ligence and meekness, her firmness and prudence; for, 
after hesitating an instant in view of Margaret s extra 
ordinary ways, she recognized her true call to the Visi 
tation, and admitted her to holy profession. She after 
ward directed her with a rare mingling of meekness and 
strength; and when the sublime revelations began, 
sought counsel, that she might not err in things so dif 
ficult. She had listened humbly to Father de la Colom- 



The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. 193 

biere and, reassured by him, had continued to keep 
Margaret in humility and peace. Convinced, finally, 
that God was preparing a great light for His Church, 
instead of turning the part she had taken in it to her 
own glory, she silently withdrew, discreetly carrying 
the secret in her own heart, and humbly leaving to 
others the honor of assisting at these wonders and of 
laboring at the promulgation of that august mystery. 
From her we have a magnificent testimony on our 
Blessed Sister, in which she particularly praises her 
humility, her obedience, her mortification, her avidity 
for contempt, and that impatience for the cross which 
increased with trials. " During the six years that I 
knew our Sister Margaret Mary," she wrote, " I can 
affirm that she never for one instant relaxed the resolu 
tion taken at her profession to make God reign in her 
before all, above all, and in all, and never to grant 
any pleasure to mind or body. This fidelity attracted 
upon her from the Divine Goodness some special graces, 
which brought with them a very great desire for the 
cross, humiliations and sufferings. We may truly say 
without exaggeration that no one was more ambitious 
of honors and pleasures than she was of contempt and 
humiliations which, in spite of her highly sensitive na 
ture, formed her only joy." 1 

Nothing can be added to these words. 

Contemp., p. 114. 




194 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER XL 

MOTHER GREYFIE SUBMITS MARGARET S EXTRAORDI 
NARY WAYS TO A NEW EXAMINATION HER SEVER. 
ITY AND HER FEARLESSNESS FATHER DE LA CO- 
LOMBIERE RETURNS TO PARAY HIS DEATH. 

1678-1684. 

" Probate spiritus, si ex Deo sint." 

"Try the spirits if they be of God." /. St. John iv. I. 



17, 1678, Mother Peronne-Rosalie Greyfie, a 
religious of Annecy, arrived at Paray, having 
been elected Superioress in place of Mother de 
Saumaise. 

The first of the three Superioresses deputed by God 
to examine the extraordinary ways of Margaret Mary, 
Mother Hersant, was from Paris. The second, she who 
had admitted her to profession and who was the confi 
dant of the revelations of the Sacred Heart, Mother de 
Saumaise, w r as from Dijon, the natal place of St. Chantal. 
Now we have Annecy, " the holy source," coming in its 
turn to take up this grand and solemn examination, and 
going, if we may so express ourselves, to close it. 

Coming to Paray after the period of the grandest 
revelations and before the public manifestation of Mar 
garet s apostolate, Mother Greyfie seems to have been 
delegated for no other end than, by the severity and 
courage of her examination, to throw splendor upon 
Margaret s virtue and the supernatural character of her 
mission. It must be granted that no Superioress was 
more fitted than she to fulfil the task intrusted to her. 
Blessed in her earliest childhood by the venerable 
Mother de Chantal, admitted to the little habit" and 
boarding-school by Mother de Blonay, received to her 



A New Examination. 195 

profession oy Mother de Chaugy, Peronne-Rosalie 
Greyfie had been reared from her earliest years in 
the purest atmosphere of the Visitation. The stories 
told of her during her childhood, and later in her novi 
tiate, record actions full of generosity and strength of 
character that show the grandeur of her soul. " She is 
a distinguished subject," wrote the Superioress of An- 
necy, Marie-Aimee de Rabutin, on sending her to Paray, 
" who perfectly possesses the spirit of meekness and 
strength proper for governing. Upright and sincere, 
she is a perfectly humble soul, and very exact to the 
observance. Indeed, my dear Sisters, only my great 
love for Paray induces me to send it this Mother with 
whom, I am persuaded, you will be perfectly satisfied." 1 
Superioress at Thonon, Paray, Lemur, Rouen, and An- 
necy successively, she died at the age of seventy-nine 
years, after sixty-two years of profession. She was one 
of those great Superioresses of the Visitation during its 
second period. But there is a difference in souls. 
Sweetness predominated in Mother de Saumaise. In 
her one loved that breadth and frankness of mind, 
unmixed with weakness, that led her to all that is good. 
Mother Greyfie was, on the contrary, characterized by 
rigorism and austerity. "She had," say the old Me- 
moires, "an extreme distrust for the guidance of extra 
ordinary souls." 2 "Her wonderful attachment to the 
Rule made of her a living rule." With such a char 
acter and such inclinations, one might expect Mother 
Greyfie to neglect no precaution to assure herself of the 
nature of Sister Margaret Mary s extraordinary ways. 
Perhaps it was for this that the convent of Annecy, 
which knew of the trouble at Paray, had suggested her 
election to the Sisters. Let us, to rise above thoughts 

1 Abridgment of the Life and Virtues of our very honored Mother 
Peronne-Rosalie Greyfie, who died Superioress of this First Monastery 
of Annecy, February 26, 1717. Small octavo of 19 pages. Annecy, 1718. 

2 Life and Works, vol. i. p. 448. 3 Abrege, etc. 



196 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

so low, say that it was certainly for this purpose God 
had brought her to Paray, that there might no longer be 
room for doubt of Sister Margaret Mary s sublime mis 
sion. The precautions taken by Mother Greyfie were 
of such a nature, her severity so great, that she after 
ward experienced remorse for it; nor could she end her 
life without publicly expressing regret "for having 
yielded too much to Margaret s desire to be humbled 
and mortified." 

At the time of Mother Greyfie s coming to the con 
vent of Paray, the community, "very good," she says, 
"and full of virtue and piety," 2 was decidedly divided 
on the subject of Margaret Mary. The great act that 
we have related in the preceding chapter, always inex 
plicable, had left a deep impression. No one could 
doubt Margaret s virtue, though her conduct astonished. 
Discussion went on, not with regard to the revelations 
of the Sacred Heart, absolutely unknown to the Com 
munity, and of which the Sister had not yet said one 
word, but on her long prayers, her faintings in the 
choir, her unusual practices, her strange maladies. Re 
ligious the most grave, the most fervent, and at their 
head Marie-Madeleine des Escures, " whom they always 
regarded as a saint," 3 inclined to believe that Margaret 
was in error. 

No doubt Mother Greyfie had from the beginning 
demanded entire and filial confidence. She learned in 
this way, and perhaps also from Mother de Saumaise, 
of the three revelations of the Sacred Heart. What 
impression had this recital made upon her mind ? Did 
she believe it ? Did she doubt it ? It is difficult to say, 
although everything seemed to indicate that, at first, 
she was not perfectly convinced. 

1 Memoire of Mother Greyfie. 2 Ibid. 

3 Abridgment of -the Life and Virtues of our very honored Sister 
Marie-Elizabeth de la Salle, died in this Convent of Paray, February 
IO > T 735- Small octavo of 13 pages. 



A New Examination. 197 

However that may he, her resolution very quickly 
followed. It was this: to make no account of what she 
had heard, and to subject Margaret in all things to the 
common life of the Community. She herself tells us 
with what rigor she executed her resolve: "When I 
entered the service of your house," she wrote later to 
the Sisters of Paray, " although your Community was 
very good, full of virtue and piety, I nevertheless found 
sentiments very much divided with respect to this true 
spouse of the crucified Saviour. Therefore, to keep 
each Sister in peace and tranquillity, I made up my 
mind rarely to pay any attention to the extraordinary 
things that she said took place in her. I never intro 
duced her to any one, neither within nor without the 
convent. If it happened that she did something which 
displeased, though by my order or with my consent, I 
suffered that others should disapprove it, and I even 
blamed her myself if she were present." l 

With an imperfect soul such conduct might have 
been dangerous, leading perhaps to revolt. But with 
Margaret Mary, whatever efforts Mother Greyfie made, 
she could not succeed in humbling her as much as she 
desired to humble herself. Mother Greyfie continues: 
" It was always Sister Margaret Mary who was called to 
account for whatever went wrong; it was she who did 
all the mischief, all the evil, or who was the cause of 
God s permitting it in others. Thus she ceased not to 
ask to do penance, to satisfy Divine Justice. Had she 
been allowed, she would have martyrized her body with 
fasts, vigils, bloody disciplines, and other macerations." 

This first means not succeeding, Mother Greyfie tried 
another. She not only affected to make no account of 
Margaret, whom she ever sacrificed to the murmurs of 
the Community, even when the saintly Sister had acted 
by her orders; but to calm minds, she began to with 
draw from Margaret the permissions that had 
1 Memoire of Mother GreyfiS. 



198 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

accorded her. She had been allowed to make the Holy 
Hour; that is to say, every week on the night between 
Thursday and Friday, at the end of Matins, she re 
mained in the choir until eleven o clock, prostrate on 
the floor, her arms in the form of a cross. It was there 
the Lord made her ineffably participate in the sorrows 
of His agony. At first, Mother Greyfie made her 
change her posture, requiring her to kneel with her 
hands joined; and soon she spoke of suppressing this 
exercise altogether. So long as there was question of 
merely changing her posture, the humble Margaret said 
not a word. But when the Holy Hour was suppressed, 
though she obeyed (for nothing could shake her obedi 
ence), two or three times on coming from prayer she ran 
frightened to the Superioress to say that the Lord ap 
peared irritated, and that she was afraid some terrible 
punishment would reveal His anger. Mother Greyfie 
paid no attention to her, but persisted in the order she 
had given. While things were going on in this way, 
there died suddenly, and under circumstances that 
astonished Mother Greyfie, one of the youngest and 
most amiable Sisters of the Community, one on whom 
were founded the greatest hopes. Mother Greyfie 
thought she saw in this stroke the divine anger threat 
ening her, and she hastened to restore Margaret s per 
mission for the Holy Hour. It is she herself who tells 
this humbly and simply. But obliged thus to yield in 
this one point, she held firmly to the rest of her orders; 
and our poor Sister Margaret Mary, drawn by a force 
more powerful than herself and having already taken 
her upward flight, was obliged humbly to subject her 
self to the pace of the other Sisters. 

Soon Mother Greyfie went farther. She affected to 
pay no more attention to her maladies than to her at 
tractions and to the permissions that had been ac 
corded her. She obliged her, though in a raging fe 
ver and weighed down by illness, to follow every 



A New Examination. 199 

exercise of the Community. It might have drawn tears 
to all eyes to see this perfectly obedient soul dragging 
herself to the choir and there remaining on her knees, 
her hands joined and motionless, with the exception of 
the slight movements the fever forced from her. One 
of these occasions will be forever memorable. Mar 
garet was in bed in the infirmary. Mother Greyfie 
went to see her, and told her to rise and follow the 
exercises of the annual retreat. " Go," said she to her, 
"I remit you into the hands of God. Let Him direct 
you, govern you, and cure you according to His will." 
Margaret Mary was, at first, a little surprised to find 
herself put into retreat, notwithstanding her raging 
fever; but the joy of being, as the Mother lu.d said, 
" placed in the hands of God " overruled every other 
consideration. She rose at once from her bed, and be 
gan her retreat. God, who loves generous souls, ap 
peared to her as soon as she had retired to her little 
cell. She was lying on the floor, benumbed with cold. 
He raised her up with a thousand caresses, saying: 
"Lo! thou art now committed entirely to Me and My 
care; consequently, I wish to restore thee in perfect 
health to her who remitted thee into My hands." In 
effect, after eight days passed in ineffable delights, Mar 
garet Mary came out of retreat physically renewed, and 
so strong that Mother Greyfie was in admiration. 

One might be tempted to accuse Mother Greyfie of 
cruelty, but she was far from deserving such a reproach. 
She wished to see clearly, for she felt the weight of her 
responsibility in matters so grave. By nature little 
given to extraordinary things; "knowing," as St. Chan- 
tal says, " that women are sometimes very imaginative;" 
Bearing to be deceived and drawing the convent and the 
whole Institute into error, she knew not what pre 
cautions to take to assure herself of the truth of the 
sublime revelations of the Sacred Heart. And sup- 



2OO Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

posing that she did exceed in measure, which, however, 
we do not believe, who will dare blame her ? 

Resolved to rise above her doubts, she wished to have 
at any cost some authentic act to prove that it was God 
who was conducting Sister Margaret Mary. Conse 
quently, full of that holy audacity to be found in the 
lives of the saints, she had the hardihood to demand a 
miracle that would have numberless witnesses and the 
greatest publicity. 

" One day," says Mother Greyfie, " when the fervent 
Sister was recovering from a serious illness and had not 
yet left her bed, I know not whether it was on a Satur 
day or the eve of a feast, I went to see her. She asked 
my permission to rise next morning for holy Mass. I 
hesitated a little at her request, and she perfectly under 
stood that I did not consider her strong enough to 
grant it. Whereupon, responding to my thought, she 
said to me, sweetly and graciously: My good Mother, if 
you wish it, the Lord will also wish it and give me the 
strength. Then, I replied, I shall tell the Sister In 
firmarian to give you some nourishment in the morning 
and let you rise about Office time, so as to bring you to 
holy Mass. 

The infirmarian was Sister Catherine-Augustine Ma- 
rest. Now, on the evening of that same day, Margaret 
Mary, feeling better, thought she could not only hear 
Mass the next day, but also receive holy Communion, 
of which she had been so long deprived. She spoke of 
it to the Sister Infirmarian, and implored her to go and 
ask the Superioress permission to remain fasting, that 
she might communicate. Sister Marest promised, but 
soon forgot the commission. Next morning she made 
Margaret rise very early and still fasting. All at once 
she remembered that she had not asked permission tor 
Margaret to remain fasting, so she left the infirmary to 
seek the Superioress and ask the desired leave. " God 

of Mother Greyfi6. 



A New Examination. 201 

permitted," says Mother Greyfie, " that, as she left by 
one door, I should enter the infirmary by the other. 
Hardly had I seen the poor invalid up and learned from 
her that she was fasting with the intention of being 
able to communicate, than, without inquiring into the 
fact, I gave her a sharp reprimand, exaggerated her 
fault and called it the effect of her own will, want of 
obedience, submission, and simplicity. In conclusion, 
I told her to go to Mass and communicate. But since 
her own will had given her sufficient strength and cour 
age for that, I wished in my turn to command. I then 
prescribed that she should carry her bed-clothes to her 
cell and her napkin to the refectory, and that she should 
go to the Office at the sound of the bell, and follow all 
the Community exercises for five consecutive months, 
without once returning to the infirmary. Margaret 
Mary received my correction on her knees, her hands 
joined, her countenance sweet and tranquil. After 
listening to the end, she humbly asked pardon and pen 
ance for her fault, and at once set about fulfilling to the 
letter all that I had commanded." 1 

There were at this time in the infirmary two Sisters, 
Frangoise-Marguerite d Athose and Catherine-Augus 
tine Marest, the latter having returned in time to 
witness the scene. Both testified at the process of 
canonization to the impression received from Margaret s 
humility. They saw her humbly fall on her knees be 
fore her Superioress, ask her pardon fora fault that 
she had not committed, and, without reply or excuse, go 
simply where obedience sent her. 

It was, perhaps, lightly and under some excitement 
that Mother Greyfie had told Margaret to carry the 
clothes from her bed and not again to set foot in the 
infirmary for five months. But when the saint had 
gone, reflecting that, humanly speaking, obedience to 
her orders was impossible, the venerable Superioress 
1 Meinoire of Mother Greyfi. 



2O2 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

felt inspired that this was the occasion for which she 
had so long been seeking, the miracle that would banish 
every remaining doubt. Retiring to her cell, she wrote 
the following note, which she laid under Margaret s 
eyes, as she was already kneeling in the choir to hear 
holy Mass. 

" Live J* Jesus! 

" I, the undersigned, by virtue of the authority God 
has given me in quality of Superioress of Sister Mar 
garet Mary, command her, by virtue of holy obedience, 
to ask health of the Lord with so much fervor and im 
portunity that she may prevail on His goodness to 
grant it, in order not to be always a burden to holy 
religion and to be able assiduously to practise all the 
exercises of the Community, and this until the Presenta 
tion of Our Lady of this year, 1780, on which day we 
shall deliberate upon what we shall do for the future. 
" Sister Peronne-Rosalie Greyfie, Superioress." 

Mother Greyfie did not mince matters. More than 
once we have had proofs that on great occasions God 
loves such bold tests of faith. The miracle asked by 
Margaret Mary was instantaneous and brilliant; or 
rather there were two of them. First, the sudden and 
extraordinary cure, followed by perfect health; then, at 
the end of five months, the feast of the Presentation, 
a relapse so sudden, so lamentable, into so unusual a 
state, that God s intervention was evident. The entire 
Community witnessed these two prodigies. A number 
of Sisters testified to them at the process of canoniza 
tion; and all declared that they knew not which to ad 
mire more, the swiftness of the cure or the precision of 
the relapse. 

Let us listen to Margaret Mary recounting the cir 
cumstances of the first miracle: " At the elevation of 
holy Mass, I felt sensibly relieved of all my infirmities. 
It was as if a robe of suffering had been taken off me; 



A New Examination. 203 

and I found myself with the health and strengta of a 
very robust person that had never been sick." 

Listen now to contemporaries, who testified to uhe 
second. " We all admired so manifest a miracle, espe 
cially as at the same hour upon which the five months 
expired, she fell suddenly as ill as she had been 
before." 2 

Several religious testified at the time to these two 
miracles. " The venerable Sister," says Sister Fran- 
coise Chalon, " was suddenly cured the day on which 
the Superioress asked it. She went to the choir with 
the other Sisters, all of whom were much astonished by 
the sudden change in her state. All went well for five 
months, at the end of which she relapsed into her 
former infirmities." The said deponent added that the 
venerable Sister had made her read the note which the 
Superioress had given her, and in which she exacted 
her cure as an evidence of the divine origin of what 
took place in her. 3 " I attest," says Sister Rosalie de 
Lyonne, " that I saw our venerable Sister at the time of 
her greatest illness, when she received from the Superi 
oress the note ordering her to ask of God her cure as a 
sign that all that took place in her came from Him. 
Margaret Mary accepted the alternative, and submitted. 
That same day she was cured, and, to our great astonish 
ment, began to follow all the exercises of the Com 
munity. She continued in perfect health for five months, 
needing no remedy; but at the end of that time she 
relapsed into all her infirmities. I saw and read the 
note. I am an eye-witness of both the cure and the 
relapse." The venerable Sister said to her in con 
fidence, as she tells us, that if the Superioress had asked 
five years instead of five months she would undoubt 
edly have obtained them from her amiable Saviour. 4 

1 Memoire, p. 363. 

IJ Contemp., p. 150. ;; Process of 1715, p. 57. 

4 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister de Lyonne. 



204 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Besides other witnesses, Sister Catherine Marest and 
Mother Elizabeth de la Garde spoke of the miracles 
and stated the facts in identical terms, to the surprise 
and admiration of the Sisters. 

While things were taking this turn at Paray, Father 
de la Colombiere was obliged to leave England. He 
returned to France crushed, almost dying. Had any 
one been tempted to envy Father de la Colombiere s 
position as almoner to the Duchess of York and con 
fessor to the heir-presumptive to the crown, he might 
now estimate in his person the small value of worldly 
honors. After passing four years in the Duchess of 
York s palace, where he lived as a religious and in such 
detachment that he did not even visit the great capital 
of England, and at the same time as an apostle, preach 
ing incessantly and with the greatest success, Father de 
la Colombiere, along with some English Catholics, was 
suddenly involved in a grave accusation of plotting 
against the safety of the state. The accusation was 
apparently political, intended, they said, to protect the 
threatened life of the king; in reality, however, its ob 
ject was to dishonor the Duke of York, his heir-pre 
sumptive, because he was a Catholic, and thus prevent 
his ascending the throne. In revolutionary times, when 
people are excited, a word suffices to enkindle a fire. 
The idea of this pretended plot hatched by the Catho 
lics against the life of the king of England was received 
by the people of England with a credulity at which 
their greatest historians now blush. Father de la 
Colombiere was conspicuous by his high position, his 
apostoli-c zeal and great talents. He was, therefore, 
one of the first arrested even in the palace of the 
Duchess of York, and cast into prison. There, resigned 
to death, he languished a whole month by order of his 
judges. At the end of this time he was made to assist 
at the execution of four English Jesuits, his confreres 
and friends, who were p.ut to death under his eyes. 



Father de la Colombfere returns to Par ay. 205 

Then, as his enemies dare not touch his person, by 
reason of Ins being a Frenchman, they condemned him 
to perpetual banishment from England. A vessel 
landed him on the shores of France. The dampness of 
his prison, the racking emotion of a sensitive soul like 
his at the sight of the sufferings of his friends, the 
sorrow of leaving a great church desolated for so lonp- 
a period, brought on hemorrhages of the lungs, whic h 
in some months conducted him to the grave. 

Hardly had he set foot on the soil of France when he 
wrote to his Superior in terms that portray the most 
touching humility. He begged forgiveness for return 
ing to France almost incapable of work, a burden to 
the Society, and he asked for orders. " It is very pain 
ful to me," he wrote, " to return to the province in a 
condition in which apparently I shall not be able to 
work much this year." Lyons having been assigned 
him as his place of residence, he passed rapidly through 
Paris, and proceeded through Burgundy, stopping at 
Dijon to see Mother de Saumaise. He had always had 
an uncommon esteem for this soul, so generous, so 
good, and he wanted to converse with her about Sister 
Margaret Mary, and learn in detail the end of those 
marvels of which they had together been the first con 
fidants. It is bitterly to be regretted that the conversa 
tion of those two great souls has not been preserved. 
We know not whether Mother de Saumaise carefully 
guarded the secret, or whether the Sisters to whom she 
related it had no thought of committing it to writing. 
We only know that during the visit he made at the 
parlor to all the Community, Mother de Saumaise hav 
ing been called out for a moment, he took advantage of 
her absence to congratulate the Sisters on having such 
a Mother, adding humbly that he would esteem himself 
happy to be under such direction. 

From Dijon Father de la Colombiere went direct to 
1 Letter of January 16, 1679. 



206 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Paray, conducted to Mother Greyfie by the same Hand 
that had hitherto led him, in order to throw on the 
extraordinary ways of Sister Margaret Mary some last 
light. At Paray they hardly recognized him. He was 
no longer the young religious, at once so humble and 
So brilliant, who was so communicative, and who spoke 
with so much warmth. He could scarcely breathe. 
They felt that he "had," as Holy Scripture says| 
"come out of great tribulation." 1 But his peace of 
soul, the fire that lit up his emaciated countenance, his 
recollection and lively faith, particularly at the altar, 
told more plainly than words that this tribulation had 
been good for him, and that he had finished " the wash 
ing of his robe in the blood of the Lamb." The whole 
town, and the Visitation in particular, welcomed him 
with that veneration which the first Christians had for 
those confessors whom the sword had spared in spite of 
themselves. According to the expression of one of the 
Fathers of the Church: -He had not failed to be a 
martyr, if martyrdom had not failed him." 2 

Paray seemed to restore him a little strength. Some 
days after his arrival, he wrote to Mother de Saumaise: 
"I was ill on arriving at Paray; but in two days I was 
re-established. I worked straight on for a week from 
morning till night, without feeling any inconvenience. 
I cannot tell you how many subjects of consolation God 
has given me; I found matters in an admirable con 
dition. // seems to me that everything has taken an increase 
since my departure. . . . You can easily believe that in 
eight days I have not had time for long interviews with 
those who wished to speak to me; and yet it has pleased 
the infinite mercy of God to shed so many blessings on 
the few words I have said that all have been, as it were, 
renewed in fervor." 3 
1 Apoc. vii. 14. 

9 See the Approbation of Father de la Colombia s Sermons, 
December 21, 1681. 
8 Letter written at Lyons, March 23, 



Father de la Colombi ere returns to Par ay. 207 

He saw Mother Greyfie several times, and had long 
interviews with her, but with Sister Margaret Mary 
only once. This accorded with the course he always 
followed in conversing with the latter. He saw her 
rarely, then but for a short time; and they hardly ever 
wrote. If Margaret had a word to say to him, she put 
it on a scrap of paper and confided it to Mother Greyfie, 
who either sent it, or did not send it, to London. The 
reply came under cover to the Superioress, or rather in 
her letter. A heavenly detachment existed in those 
rare and hasty communications. One sees nothing 
human in them. This unique visit was, besides, full of 
consolation. " I have only been able to see Sister Mar 
garet Mary once; but I have had much consolation in 
the visit. I always find her extremely humble and sub 
missive, with a great love of the cross and of contempt. 
Behold the marks of the spirit that guides her, and 
which never deceives any one." 1 

What Father de la Colombiere wrote then to Mother 
de Saumaise he had said in the same tone to Mother 
Greyfie, with whom he had conversed a long time. He 
declared to her very decidedly that, as for himself, he 
did not hesitate to believe that " what passed in this 
dear Sister came from God." He gave her the true 
reason for it: There is in her no appearance of illu 
sion; it would be found that the devil, in wishing to 
deceive her, deceives himself: humility, simplicity, ex 
act obedience, and mortification are not the fruits of 
the spirit of darkness." " " By this advice," said Mother 
Greyfie, "I have been strongly reassured; for in what 
ever way I have taken Sister Margaret Mary, I always 
found her in the faithful practice of these virtues and 
the exact observance of our holy duties." 3 

During those eight or ten days passed at Paray, 
Fatherde la Colombiere remarked, as he wrote to Mother 
1 Letter written at Lyons, March 23. 
8 Comemp., p. 130. 3 Memoire of Mother Greyfi6. 

MONTREAL FREE U 

TA6 BLEURY STREET 



208 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

de la Saumaise, that all was very much increased during his 
absence. It was the truth. Mother Greyfie s severity 
had made resplendent both Margaret s virtue and the 
divinity of her sublime revelations. Her boldness in 
demanding a miracle had begun to crown our humble 
Margaret with the aureola of the saints. Besides, it is 
the privilege of true love that the more it is persecuted 
the more it becomes inflamed, like fire, which the air 
fans and excites. This is what she sang in her novitiate 
days: 

" The more they contradict my love, 
The more that love inflames!" 

Checked in her most earnest aspirations, deprived of 
those exercises that would satisfy her love by allowing 
it expression, Margaret felt her passion for God and the 
Sacred Heart increase. We have purposely said " her 
passion," for the word love, so sublime, so deep, so exces 
sive when there is question of the majority of men, ex 
presses in a very cold manner the flame enkindled in her 
heart. To sigh after contempt and humiliations, to 
plunge into sufferings, was for her an ordinary thing. 
She renewed her donation of self, making it more fully 
than ever before, and by it delivering to the Heart of 
Jesus her entire being in the present and in the future. 
It was in these sentiments that she received the inspira 
tion to make a kind of last will and testament, in which 
she abandoned to the Lord, to use as best pleased Him 
and makeover to whom He wished, not only her prayers 
and sufferings, her present merits, but even the prayers 
and holy sacrifices that would be offered for her after 
her death; thus despoiling herself of all merit in favor 
of Him whom alone she loved. This testament con 
ceived and prepared, she had the courage to ask Mother 
Greyfie to witness; for, as she said, she came on the 
part of the Lord. 

Mother Greyfie, by nature little given to such acts, 
felt the importance of this one, and, encouraged by 



Father de la Colombitre returns to Par ay. 209 

Father de la Colombiere, enlightened by the miracle of 
the Sister s cure and by other incidents in which she 
had experienced her power with God, did not hesitate. 
She herself wrote out the donation, and signed this 
humble formula: " Sister Peronne-Rosalie Greyfie, at 
present Superioress, and for whom Sister Margaret 
Mary daily asks conversion with the grace of final peni 
tence." 

This done, Sister Margaret Mary implored Mother 
Greyfie to allow her, in turn, to sign, but with her 
blood. The Mother having assented, Sister Margaret 
Mary went to her cell, bared her breast, and, imitating 
her illustrious and saintly foundress, cut with a knife 
the name of Jesus above her heart. From the blood 
that flowed from the wound she signed the act in these 
words: " Sister Margaret Mary, Disciple of the Divine 
Heart of the Adorable Jesus." 

The world may see in this but foolishness and excess. 
True; but it corresponds to other excesses more inex 
plicable still: here, the scourges of penance; there, the 
blows of flagellation; here, the name of Jesus written 
in bloody characters on the breast; there, the feet and 
hands of the Saviour pierced, His Heart opened. Two 
follies instead of one, and those of man obliged to yield 
the palm to those of God ! But if worldlings sometimes 
commit similar acts of foolishness for the love of crea 
tures, who are here to day and away to-morrow, and who 
at the very time they captivate our heart possess only a 
shadow of perishable beauty, why do they fail to com 
prehend such actions in regard to Him who is infinite 
beauty, and whose only fault lies in this, that He hides 
Himself under a veil ? 

If He would raise it for a moment, the sight would at 
once disturb our reason, and we should all experience 
those extravagances of love, now the happy privilege of 
only a few choice souls. 

The Lord expressed His pleasure at the total gift that 



2io Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Margaret had made of herself: "My Divine Master," 
she wrote, " testified to me great satisfaction at this act. 
He told me that] since His love had stripped me of every 
thing, He did not wish that I should have any other 
riches than those of His Sacred Heart. * I constitute 
thee, said He to me, the heiress of My Heart and of all 
its treasures. I promise thee that assistance shall never 
be wanting to thee till power is wanting to Me. Thou 
shall be forever its well-beloved disciple. " He had 
a word also for Mother Grey fie: " He promised to grant 
her the same grace formerly bestowed upon St. Clare of 
Montefalco; to clothe her actions in the infinite merits 
of His own; and on account of the love she had mani 
fested for His Sacred Heart, to enable her to merit the 
same crown." " This gave me great consolation," Mar 
garet Mary adds, "for I loved her much, because she 
nourished my soul generously with the delicious bread 
of mortification and humiliation." 

However, in the midst of the peace and joy that this 
great act had procured her, the generous and fervent 
Margaret Mary experienced one regret, namely, that the 
letters of the holy name of Jesus, which she had en 
graven on her heart and which she wished to be as last 
ing as her love, began, after some time, to grow faint, 
and to disappear. Resting on the permission that she 
had received, she tried once or twice to renew them by 
opening the lines with a knife; but not succeeding ac 
cording to her liking, she determined to apply fire. 
This she did, but so incautiously that she soon had rea 
son to fear having exceeded the limits of obedience. 
Trembling and humbled, she went to acknowledge her 
fault. Mother Greyfie, true to her custom, apparently 
paid little attention to what Margaret said, but ordered 
her in a few dry words to go to the infirmary and 
show her wound to Sister Augustine Marest, who would 
dress it. Margaret had not foreseen this increase of 
1 Memoire, p. 349. - Ibid. 



Father de la Colombitre returns to Paray. 2 1 1 

humiliation. Must she, then, disclose to a simple Sister 
the effects of love s holy ardor? And to what a Sister! 
For Sister Augustine Marest s rough, strong nature held 
such things in very low estimation. 

Timid and blushing, Margaret Mary went to complain 
to the Lord: " O my unique Love, wilt Thou suffer that 
another should see the injury I have done myself for 
love of Thee? Art Thou not sufficiently powerful to 
heal me, Thou the Sovereign Remedy of all my evils ?" 
Touched by her affliction, her good Master promised 
that she should be cured the next day. This indeed 
was the case; for next day, instead of bleeding wounds, 
there remained only large scars. Meanwhile, Sister 
Madeleine des Escures was sent to Margaret by Mother 
Greyfie, who was less indifferent than she seemed. Pre 
occupied with the thought of what Margaret had told 
her, she deputed this Sister to examine and report to her 
the gravity of the statement. Sister des Escures accord 
ingly asked to see Margaret s wounded breast. The 
latter, knowing herself to be cured, thought herself dis 
pensed from obeying, thanked the Sister graciously for 
her proffered services, but refused to show it. It was 
not thus, however, that Mother Greyfie understood the 
matter. Informed of Margaret s refusal, she went to 
her, reproved her sharply for disobedience, deprived her 
of holy Communion for that day, " which was for me," 
says Margaret, " the severest of all penances," and com 
manded her to show her wounds to the Sister. 1 Sister 
Marie-Madeleine des Escures found them healed, though 
the glorious scars were visible. The deep wounds had 
disappeared, but the large, dry crusts forming the holy 
name of Jesus were still there. The characters were of 
unusual size and such as are impressed on very large 
books. 2 

But Mother Greyfie s displeasure at obedience of this 

1 Contemp., p. 140. 

8 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister de Farges. 



212 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

kind was nothing compared with that shown Margaret 
by the Lord. He appeared to her with an angry air, re 
proached her for her fault, and for five days kept her at 
His feet, without permitting her to raise her eyes for 
one instant to His Sacred Heart. " I saw myself ban 
ished," she said, " under His feet, where for nearly five 
days I did nothing but bewail my disobedience, and 
ask pardon by continual penances." She goes on: " In 
punishment of this fault, Jesus told me that the impres 
sion of His holy name on my heart should never appear 
exteriorly." And, in truth, after Margaret s death Sis 
ter des Escures, who had beheld the deep wounds, had 
the holy curiosity to examine whether they still existed; 
but there was no trace of them. " You were well in 
spired," wrote Mother Greyfie, who was then at Annecy, 
"to examine whether the impression of the holy name 
of Jesus which Margaret had engraven on her heart 
remained. And that you assure me there is no trace 
recognizable is to me a confirmation of the truth of the 
favors vouchsafed her. For I know that, in punish 
ment of a certain fault, the Lord told her that this 
sacred name should not appear exteriorly." 3 

Father de la Colombiere s health was not re-estab 
lished. He grew weaker every day. The lung trouble 
contracted in the London prisons were little by little 
conducting him to the grave. His Superiors sent him 
to Paray, thinking that the mild, pure air of that little 
valley would be favorable to him; but, in reality, he 
came to die. His last sigh was to be a last approbation 
of the sublime revelations of the Sacred Heart; and, 
like a faithful witness sleeping at the feet of his Master, 
his bones were to rest near the altar whereon Jesus 
Christ had appeared. He arrived at Paray in the be- 
ginning of August, 1681, and there his last six months 
were passed. His life now was not much more than a 
breath; but that breath was more and more inflamed 
1 Memoire, p. 362. 2 Contemp., p. 143. 



Death of Father de la Colombiere. 213 

with the pure love of God. He occupied himself with 
the establishment of a hospital for the poor. His efforts 
were successful, and his work still exists. He scattered 
around him, though in vague terms and with extreme 
reserve, all the pious practices that the Lord had de 
manded of His servant: the Holy Hour, Communion on 
the first Friday of the month, and, above all, the observ 
ance of the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. 
" He had learned," he said, " from a very holy soul that 
there were special graces for those who would be faith 
ful to these practices." He came from time to time to 
say Mass at the Visitation, on that altar of whose extra 
ordinary sanctity he was almost the only one that knew, 
and in secret to press his lips on that stone upon which 
the feet of the Lord had rested. More rarely still, and 
very discreetly, he visited Margaret Mary in the parlor, 
to reanimate the fervor of his soul and carry away with 
him a greater love of God. 

It was thus his life came to a close. His death was 
somewhat singular. The physicians, seeing that, far 
from improving, he grew weaker every day, advised 
him to return to his brother s home in Dauphiny. His 
Superiors consenting, his departure was fixed for Jan 
uary 29, 1682. But to spare the invalid the emotion of 
adieux to his numerous penitents, they agreed to keep 
secret the day appointed for his departure. Only one 
pious girl whom he guided and who was a friend of 
Sister Margaret Mary, Mile, de Bisefrand, begged an 
exemption in favor of the latter. Having obtained it, 
she went to the convent to inform the saint of the 
Father s projected departure on January 29th. Sister 
Margaret Mary reflected for an instant and then, after 
a moment s silence, commissioned Mile, de Bisefrand 
to go to Father de la Colombiere and say to him from 
her that, if he could postpone his departure without in 
the least violating the orders of his Superiors, he should 
not set out. Either fearing that her commission would 



214 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

not be properly delivered, or not wishing to confide her 
secret to any one, "she wrote a little note to the Father 
and confided its delivery to Mile, de Bisefrand. Now, 
this little note delayed the Father s plans, and he died 
some days after." 

Shortly after its receipt his fever increased, and on 
February 15, 1682, at 7 o clock, he died as the saints die 
holily in the Lord. 

As soon as she heard of his death, Sister Margaret 
Mary tried in every way to have the note she had sent 
Father de la Colombiere returned to her. She sent 
Mile, de Bisefrand for it. " But the Father Superior of 
the Jesuits," said the latter in her deposition, "refused 
to return it. He made me read it. The contents were: 
He has told me that He wishes the sacrifice of your 
life in this country. Another witness, Sister de 
Lyonne, confirms this fact, and adds some details. 
She testified that she knew through Rev. Father Bour- 
guignet, then Superior of the Jesuits, that the venera 
ble Sister, having learned that Father de la Colombiere s 
brother had come to take him to his native air, warned 
him by a note not to undertake this journey, that he 
had something of more consequence to do soon, and 
that it was at Paray that God wished the sacrifice of his 
life. 2 Other attempts were again made by Sister Mar 
garet Mary to have returned to her this note that betrayed 
her sanctity; but the Superior cut them short by de 
claring that he would rather give all the archives of the 
house than return that note. 3 

God, who had revealed to Margaret Mary the death 
of His servant, deigned also to reveal his glory. When 
Mile, de Bisefrand went, February i6th, five o clock in 
the morning, to announce Father de la Colombiere s 
death, which had taken place the evening before, she 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Mile, de Bisefrand. 

* Process of 1715, Deposition of Marie-Rosalie de Lyonne, 

8 Contemp., p. 155. 



Death of Father de la Colombikre. 215 

could utter but one word. " Pray and get prayers every 
where for him." " But at one o clock the same day," 
continues the latter in her deposition, " I received from 
said Sister a note to this effect: Cease to grieve. In 
voke him; fear nothing. He is more powerful to assist 
you than ever. And to Mother Greyfie, who was 
astonished that Sister Margaret Mary had not asked 
to impose upon herself some extraordinary penances, 
her % usual custom on the death of her acquaintances: 
" Mother," said she, " he has no need of them. He is in 
a state to pray for us, being, through the goodness and 
mercy of the Sacred Heart of our Saviour Jesus Christ, 
well fixed in heaven. Merely to satisfy for some negli 
gence in the exercise of divine love, his soul was de 
barred the sight of God from the time it left the body 
until the moment it was laid in the tomb." 2 

This was not the only revelation that Margaret Mary 
had of the supernal happiness of her holy director. 
Some time after she had a celebrated vision, in which 
God showed her, at one and the same time, the glory 
of Father de la Colombiere and the double and distinc 
tive mission confided to the Visitation and the Society 
of Jesus relative to the Sacred Heart. This page is of 
the first importance in the history we are writing. 

" He was, it seemed to me," wrote Margaret Mary, " in 
a place very high and spacious, admirable for its beauty. 
In the centre of it was a throne of flames upon which 
was the loving Heart of Jesus, its wound shedding 
forth rays so fiery and luminous that the whole place 
was lighted and heated by them. The most Blessed 
Virgin was on one side, and our holy Father St. 
Francis de Sales on the other, with Father de la Colom 
biere. The daughters of the Visitation, each holding a 
heart in her hand, were there also, their guardian 
angels at their side. 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Mile, de Bisefrand. 
9 Contemp., p. 155. 



21 6 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

"The Blessed Virgin spoke: Come, my beloved daugh 
ters. she said, * approach, for I wish to make you the 
depositaries of this precious treasure 

" And showing them the Divine Heart, she said: Be 
hold this precious treasure. It is especially manifested 
to you on account of the tender love my Son has for 
your Institute, which He regards and loves as His dear 
Benjamin. For this reason, He exacts more from it than 
from all others. It must not only enrich itself with this 
inexhaustible treasure, but endeavor with all its power 
to distribute abundantly this precious money and try 
to enrich the whole world with it. 

Thus, according to the wording of this revelation, 
God created the Visitation to guard \\\e precious deposit 
of the Sacred Heart, to be a fervent, recollected sanc 
tuary, in which they shall contemplate incessantly the 
Heart of Jesus, in which every soul may enrich herself 
from its inexhaustible treasury. This is the first end of 
the Institute. But this is not all. If the Visitation 
does not do this, it will" fail in its mission. The 
knowledge and love of the Sacred Heart, which it con 
templates in the sweetness of prayer, it must propagate 
beyond its grates, that its light may shine everywhere. 
// must, to the full extent of its power, distribute it, give it 
abundantly to the world. It is not a favor that God con 
fers upon it, it is an order that He gives it. // must; 
that is to say, God restores to it, under a new form, 
its first vocation. It again becomes a Visitation. But, 
instead of carrying food and clothing to the poor, // 
must carry to souls: to virgins hidden in solitude; to 
apostles exhausting their strength in -the labor of 
preaching; to priests and bishops who grow gray with 
the sad thought ever before them of the multitude of 
sinners that are lost; the Visitation must, we say, 
carry to them the light, the consolation, the sublime 
strength that flows abundantly from the Sacred Heart. 
Behold why God has instituted the Visitation! Behold 



Death of Father de la Colombzere. 2 1 7 

the mission He gives it! For the rest, silence, forget- 
fulness, the hidden life; and for the Sacred Heart, an 
incessant promulgation, an apostolic flame. 

Such is the first part of this vision. The second is 
not less memorable. 

u Then turning toward Father de la Colombiere, the 
Mother of mercy addressed him: And thou, faithful 
servant of my Divine Son, thou hast a great part in this 
precious treasure; for if it is given to the daughters of 
the Visitation to make it known and loved, and to dis 
tribute it to others, it is reserved to the Fathers of thy 
Society to make the value and utility of it understood, 
so that they may profit by gratefully receiving a benefit 
so immense. In proportion as they shall console the 
Heart of Jesus, that Divine Heart, fruitful source of 
graces and benedictions, will pour itself out so abun 
dantly on the functions of their ministry that they will 
produce fruits above their hopes and labors; and the 
same for the perfection and salvation of each one of 
them in particular. " 

Thus, whilst the Visitation shall guard the deposit of 
the Sacred Heart and distribute it through its grates to 
enrich the world, the Fathers of the Society of Jesus will 
be its teachers, its preachers, its doctors, to prepare the 
way for it. Catechists, preachers, apologists, apostles, 
and, if need be, martyrs of the Sacred Heart this is to 
be their part. Let not other religious Orders envy 
them their privilege; for each has had its own. When, 
in the Middle Ages, God inspired an humble religious 
to exalt, more than preceding ages had done, devotion 
to the Blessed Sacrament, He called to serve and aid 
Him, as mouth-piece, as speaking-trumpet, the Order 
of St. Dominic. After having established it the Order of 
the Holy Rosary, He made of it the Order of the Holy 
Eucharist; and far on to the threshold of eternity the 
vaults of our cathedrals will re-echo the Dominican 
hymns, Lauda Sion and Tantum Ergo. In like manner, 



2i8 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

when God desired that Christians should wear on their 
breast, as a buckler, the name and habit of the Blessed 
Virgin, He chose the Order of Carmel, and commis 
sioned it to propagate in the world and distribute every 
where the holy Scapular. He had previously confided to 
the children of St. Francis the devotion to the Cross and 
to the Five Wounds of Our Saviour. It was necessary 
for each Order, in its laborious mission, to have its 
arms, its banner, its means of action, and its burning 
flame. However, that which belongs to some is not so 
exclusively theirs that it cannot belong to all; for of 
the love of Jesus, still more than of a mother s love, can 
we say with the poet: 

" Each has his own share, and all possess it entire." 

Let us not be jealous of one another. In the grand 
army of Jesus Christ, let us hold aloft our standard, 
and desire only the happiness of making more con 
quests. 

Father de la Colombiere s death took place February 
15, 1682. It was the same year in which was held at 
Paris the famous assembly of the French clergy con 
voked by Louis XIV. to consider the dangers menacing 
Christendom. All were there united: power, genius, 
eloquence, experience, popularity. And to what did 
such efforts amount ? Their declaration in four ar 
ticles, whose least words have been so studied, so care 
fully weighed, so skilfully connected to what purpose 
have they served ? Only to increase, instead of avert 
ing, the danger. Whilst that assembly was being held, 
an humble virgin in the solitude of an obscure convent, 
directed by a poor religious, saw the true evil that 
desolated the Church and society, and prepared herself 
to show the world the only remedy for it. 

Meanwhile Mother Greyfie s six years of Superiority 
were nearing their term. She was to leave the convent 
of Paray for that of Lemur in Auxerre, where she had 
been elected Superioress. The Community of Paray 



Death of Father de la Colombikre. 219 

must think of replacing her. For the last eighteen 
years the Sisters of Paray had sought a Superioress 
beyond their own home. Paris had sent them Mother 
Hersant; Dijon, Mother de Saumaise; and to Annecy 
they were indebted for Mother Greyfie. This time 
they thought of seeking a good Superioress among 
themselves. Their unanimous choice fell on a Sister 
who had edified the Community of Paray for four-and- 
thirty years. The only reproach that could be made to 
Mother Marie-Christine Melin, whom they elected, was 
that she was too kind not a bad thing after the rather 
severe reign of Mother Greyfie. But she was pious 
and, moreover, dearly loved by our saint, whom for a 
long time she had understood and almost divined, and 
with whom she shared all the new devotions. Her 
first act was to nominate Margaret Mary Assistant; and 
shortly after, " as the incomparable sweetness of Mother 
Marie-Christine diffused a delicious peace in the sacred 
desert of holy religion," and novices came flocking in, 
she confided to her the care of forming them to virtue. 
It was there, in that little novitiate, in the midst of six or 
seven young novices, pure as angels and all inflamed 
with love of God, that was to escape from the heart of 
Margaret the secret of love hidden therein for nine 
Vears. 

I Manuscript Annals of the Convent of Paray. 



220 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE BLESSED SISTER AMONG HER NOVICES THE 
SECRET OF THE SUBLIME REVELATIONS ESCAPES 
HER IN SPITE OF HERSELF FIRST PUBLIC ADORA 
TION OF THE SACRED HEART. 

1684-1685. 

" Adjuro vos, filiae Jerusalem, si inveneritis dilectum meum, ut nun- 
tietis ei quia amore langueo." 

"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, 
that you tell him that I languish with love." Cant. v. 8. 

" Adducentur regi virgines post earn. Afferentur in laetitia et ex- 
ultatione; adducentur in templum regis." 

" After her shall virgins be brought to the king. They shall be 
brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the 
temple of the king." Psalm xliv. 15, 16. 

appointing Sister Margaret Mary mistress of 
novices, Mother Melin had yielded less to her own 
attraction than to the requests made her by all 
around. The sanctity of the humble Margaret Mary 
was becoming known. Some young professed, about to 
leave the novitiate, expressed their willingness to re 
main if she were given to them for mistress; and some 
older religious solicited on the same condition the favor 
of returning. Even one or two novices who had had 
the happiness of conversing with her profited by the 
kindness of Mother Melin humbly to express their 
desire. They were nearing the hour in which Mar 
garet s sanctity was to pierce the last clouds. 1 

Let us see who composed the novitiate when Margaret 
Mary assumed its direction. 

The eldest of the novices, Claude-Marguerite Billiet 
1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister de Farges. 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 221 

of Paray, was the daughter of a physician, " the most 
famous of the province," 1 he who, at all hours, was by 
the pillow of the saintly invalid, and who assisted at 
her deathbed. Full of pleasantry and good-humor in 
the world, Claude-Marguerite became in the cloister 
" a purely interior soul," " a daughter of prayer and 
silence, whose union with God and ardor for holy 
Communion cannot be described." She was so on fire 
with the divine flames of the Eucharist that she would 
have overwhelmed herself with austerities for God s 
sake, had she been permitted. Her hunger after them 
was insatiable, and the sweetest pleasure one could 
afford her was to grant them to her; they were the 
most delicious refreshment. Bound in friendship with 
Margaret Mary, enthusiastic over her virtues, she joy 
fully put herself under her direction, and began to run 
with ardor in the odor of her perfumes. She was one 
of the first to comprehend and relish devotion to the 
Sacred Heart, one of the first to plunge into the love of 
the Adorable Heart, and she was not slow in being 
consumed by its flames. 2 

The second novice was Frangoise-Rosalie Verchere. 
She, too, was the daughter of a physician, and one of 
thirteen brothers and sisters, all of whom, with the ex 
ception of two, consecrated themselves to God. Called 
to the religious life, but not knowing into what Order, 
Frangoise, more than usually agitated, was walking one 
day in a very pleasant garden belonging to one of her 
relatives. She entered a summer-house and, to dispel 
her weariness, opened a book that was lying on the 
table. Happily, it was the life of our venerable Mother 
de Chantal, and Frangoise opened at the page that 
records how the Celestial Lover had engraven His 
name on St. de Chantal s heart. At that selfsame 
moment He impressed Himself so strongly on that of 

1 Circular of March 23, 1725. 

9 Abridgment of the Life and Virtues of Sister Claude-Marguerite 
Billiet. 



222 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

this young lover that, feeling violently attracted by 
His divine fire, she resolved to become a daughter of 
the Visitation. 1 Mother Greyfie joyfully received her, 
and did not spare her trials to test her courage. Seeing 
her valiant and intrepid under them, she resolved to 
lead her to the summit of perfection. We may say that 
there was scarcely any height which Franchise did not 
ascend. Her chief attraction was the practice of the 
almost uninterrupted presence of God, whence sprang 
angelic modesty and recollection. Her exterior alone 
inspired devotion. They compared her to St. Catherine 
of Genoa. Margaret Mary loved her tenderly, and pre 
dicted one day that it would be in her arms that she 
would die. This prediction was realized, as we shall 
see, in a wonderful manner and contrary to all expecta 
tion. " As if the fire and ardor of the dying saint were 
poured into the heart of our dear Sister Frangoise- 
Rosalie Verchere, having no longer the support of this 
incomparable and virtuous friend, she gave herself up 
entirely to the power of divine love, and on November 
5, 1690, at the age of five-and-twenty, made a vow to do 
all that she knew to be most perfect. Very far from 
being embarrassed by her chains, she found them all her 
life infinitely amiable. Nothing cost her; and as God 
loves generous souls, He poured so many consolations 
into her heart that, in the midst of crosses and auster 
ities the recital of which makes one tremble, she swam 
as if in a stream of peace." 2 

Sister Verchere had a sister younger than herself, 
also a novice, PerOnne-Marguerite Verchere, whose 
biography we have not been able to find. She was very 
fervent, lively, and intelligent. At first she disputed 
a little with God the full possession of her heart. It 
was she who, speaking of Margaret Mary, said one day 

1 Circular of March 23, 1725. 

2 Ibid. Abridgment of the Life and Virtues of Sister Frangoise- 
Rosalie Verchere. 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 223 

to her sister: " Let us take care, else she ll make us more 
pious than we wish to be." 

Fran9oise-Rosalie Verchere had a companion, born 
like herself at Marcigny, and led by her example to the 
Visitation. She was called Peronne-Rosalie de Farges. 
Friends in the world, yet more so in the cloister; novices 
together, and. both disciples tenderly loved by Blessed 
Margaret Mary, they held her when dying, their arms 
entwined about her. They guarded, her memory; they 
collected and preserved her letters; they wrote her life. 
They are deserving of our eternal gratitude, especially 
Peronne-Rosalie de Farges, who prevented Margaret 
Mary from throwing into the fire her invaluable Me- 
moire, as she had done all her other writings. Peronne s 
act thus preserved to the Church the crowning monu 
ments of Margaret s sanctity, and the only one, per 
haps, that gives us to know a little the greatness of her 
soul. 

At the age of seven Peronne-Rosalie de Farges made 
a vow of chastity. Shortly after, under the direction of 
Father de la Colombiere, who prepared her for it, she 
made her first Communion, " like an angel." She en 
tered the Visitation at sixteen, in spite of the opposition 
of her family, one of the best and richest of the country. 
From her entrance she was confided to Margaret Mar) -, 
whom she closely imitated in the greatness of her cour 
age and heroic virtue. Like her she had engraved on 
her heart the holy name of Jesus, to testify to God the 
vehemence of her love. She plunged so deeply into that 
holy love, she exercised on herself such cruelties, and 
practised such charity toward her neighbor, for " to 
that noble end she turned her too fiery temperament," - 
that she made continual progress in perfection. Though 
so closely imitating the actions of her holy mistress 
she still preserved her own individuality. " For a long 
time she was regarded by her companions as a St. 
Jerome, who granted nothing to nature, neither to her- 



224 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

self nor to others. In this she differed from our ven 
erable Sister Margaret Mary, whose demeanor was gentle 
and humble, as if seeking the centre of her own nothing 
ness; who never censured any one; and who insensibly 
gained hearts by the honey of her words." 

We cannot recount the numerous victories Peronne 
gained over her sprightly and ardent temper, having 
taken for device, " To conquer or to die." She saw 
nothing but duty, and like a heroine she tried to fulfil 
it. The sword was ever in her hand to conquer her 
passions, which would have been very turbulent had 
she not repressed them. She came out so victorious 
from the struggle that, at the close of her life, " she 
passed in the town for a second Margaret Mary," and 
when she died " the people ran to her funeral to see the 
saint." J 

To the four novices to whom we have now introduced 
our readers we must add three others not unworthy of 
a place in society so holy and so amiable: Marie-Fran- 
(^oise Bocaud de la Clayette, who died young, leaving us 
few reminiscences; Marie-Christine Bouthier de Semur 
en Brionnais, whose religious life was inaugurated by 
a miracle. Having suffered during her novitiate from 
weakness so great that she appeared to be pining away, 
she received from Margaret on her profession day the 
command to ask God for her cure. Pale and debili 
tated, Marie-Christine prostrated under the pall, and 
rose from beneath it full of strength and vigor, her 
countenance glowing with the hue of health. Marie- 
Nicole de la Faige des Claines was the seventh, and she 
left in the Community a memory both sweet and last 
ing. She was Margaret Mary s child of predilection, 
her " little St. Louis of Gonzaga," as she called her. 
" Beautiful and graceful; looked upon in her family as a 

1 Circular of March 23, 1725. Abridgment of the Life and Virtues 
of our dear Sister Peronne-Rosalie de Farges. See, also, Annee 
Sainte, vol. v. p. 282. 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 225 

little prodigy; flattered by her parents, whose house she 
ruled at the age of ten; idolized by her grandmother, 
great was the astonishment when, at the age of four 
teen, she asked to enter the Visitation, and with such 
persistence that the permission had to be granted." At 
fifteen she took the holy habit, and began her noviceship 
under the direction of Margaret Mary. Such were her 
fervor and angelic modesty that our saint, so strict and 
so enlightened, allowed her to pronounce her vows at 
the age of sixteen, and she herself placed the sacred 
veil on her head. Shortly after, though so young, she 
made a vow to do what was most perfect. Full of talent, 
of grace, of sweetness, skilled in every sort of employ 
ment, she did everything with ravishing tranquillity. 
Her innocence and candor were remarkable. She was 
so like an angel that her companions used to say laugh 
ingly that God had lent her a body. This was, perhaps, 
the foundation of the predilection Margaret always had 
for her. Most delicate privilege, which recalls that of 
the beloved disciple, and forms the most beautiful eulo- 
gium of this dear novice. At the moment of death 
Margaret Mary sent for her, " wishing to have this little 
angel at her pillow." 1 

In the midst of these young novices, we must rank 
apart a religious older than they. Though professed 
in 1680, and having already filled some important 
charges in the house, she so earnestly solicited permis 
sion to return to the novitiate, that good Mother Melin 
knew not how to refuse her. This was Sister Anne- 
Alexis de Mareschalle, a singularly grand soul. She 
had been born in Calvinism, of one of the oldest and 
noblest families. Dissatisfied with the course of things, 
its members, through a spirit of opposition and the hope 
of reform, threw themselves into heresy. When her 
father, who wished to return to the true faith, which he 
left only through complaisance to his wife, was dead; 
1 Circular of April 17, 1746. Annee Sainte, vol. ix. p. 727. 



226 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacogue. 

and when the latter, who had violently opposed her 
weak husband s conversion, had, through the persuasive 
voice of Father de la Colombiere, abjured heresy; in 
order to induce her daughter Anne-Alexis to follow her 
example, she took her secretly to the Visitation under 
pretext of placing her there as a pupil. The child, per 
ceiving her mother s design, burst into a fury. She 
poured out torrents of abuse, and laying her head on 
the trunk of a tree, cried out with all her strength: 
"Cut off my head. I would rather die than be made a 
papist and remain with these wolves and demons of re 
ligious." The Sisters thought for a time that they 
would be obliged to send the child back to her mother. 
She scoffed at everything. When in church, she turned 
her back to the Blessed Sacrament; when in the garden, 
she climbed the highest trees, and throwing a rope on 
the walls, tried to scale them. Such she was then: 
ardent, energetic, passionate; such she was on the day 
of her conversion and abjuration. True stroke of 
Heaven! It was not enough for her to be a religious; 
she flung herself headlong and fearlessly into what was 
highest and holiest in religion or most appalling in vir 
tue. Mother Greyfie did not spare her trials, "giving 
her even extraordinary ones, but they cost Sister Anne- 
Alexis nothing at all." Never was she more joyous than 
when most overwhelmed by them. Were we to detail 
the austerities that she imposed upon herself, their 
number would be almost infinite. She never laid aside 
her iron cincture, not even when watching by the sick, 
helping in the washing, or performing other labors yet 
more painful. She sang the entire Office with this in 
strument of penance around her waist; she even slept 
with it, "so natural to her were corporal macerations." 
With all this, she exhibited the greatest contentment. 
A certain joyousness shone in her countenance, and 
glided into her conversation, which was always gay and 
holily recreative. She composed couplets and very 



The Blessed Sister among her Notices. 227 

beautiful canticles to animate herself to new fervor. 
She was the best,friend in the world, and the most obedi 
ent of daughters to her Superioress; for she was like a 
ball of wax in the hands of God and of those who held 
His place. It was she whom " they could put into all 
employments great and small, without either elevating 
or lowering her." She had been a religious seven 
years when she asked to return to the novitiate, where 
she was the astonishment and spur of the young Sisters. 
Such was the novitiate of Paray at the time that Mar 
garet Mary assumed its direction, such were the souls 
confided to her care. They were worthy of having a 
saint for mistress; and she, inflamed with the love of 
God, and desirous of enkindling it in all breasts, could 
not wish for material better prepared. Indeed, hardly 
had she entered upon her charge when, to use the ex 
pression of the old Memoires, she " enkindled the fire of 
divine love in all those hearts so well disposed." 1 She 
animated them by her words, whilst her example led 
them to emulate her. Sometimes she simply explained 
to them the Rule or the observances, but in such 
atone, with unction so penetrating, that every difficulty 
seemed at once to disappear. "Although," said Sister 
de Farges, " we had learned all these observances from 
three mistresses who had preceded her, our venerable 
Sister explained them to us with a clearness and unc 
tion altogether heavenly. Her words seemed to flow 
from the Heart of Jesus, and they delightfully facilitated 
virtue." 2 " Sometimes she spoke to them of the love of 
God. But," says Sister Verchere, " He whom she had 
on her lips was nothing compared to Him whom she had 
in her heart. Hers was a passionate love for God. At 
every instant she gave utterance to such cries as: * Oh, 
if you knew how sweet it is to love God! Oh, what is 
there that we cannot cheerfully suffer for the love of 
our neighbor! She returned so frequently to this point 
1 Circular of March 23, 1725. 9 Ib. 



228 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

that we compared her to the beloved disciple, St. John 
the Evangelist. The ardor of her chanty inflamed her 
with the purest zeal, and she often said that she would 
willingly suffer every torment to save one soul." 
Again, it was on humility or self-forgetfulness that she 
entertained her novices. But " her sweet and lowly 
exterior, abased even to the centre of her nothingness," 
spoke more eloquently than any discourse. "It was a 
pleasure," says Sister des Claines, " to see her reproved 
by her Superioress. It would be impossible to receive 
a correction with truer humility. The tears that she 
shed over her least faults impressed the beholder with 
the idea that she was dead to self-love and absolutely 
given up to the love of God." 2 

Ordinarily she spoke to them of the Sacred Heart. 
She so timid, and who, " through natural reserve, never 
mentioned a word about it to the Community, nor to 
her friends, of whom she counted a large number, nor 
even to the Superioress or ordinary confessor," 3 gave 
free vent to her heart in the midst of this amiable and 
pious band. Without .saying anything of the revela 
tions with which she had been honored, but upon which 
she maintained inviolable silence, she spoke to them 
of the Adorable Heart of Jesus, of its beauty, of the 
treasures it contains, of the graces with which it will 
inundate those that study, adore, and love it. She 
could say all that without betraying herself. In speak 
ing thus, she was imitating her Father, St. Francis de 
Sales: and who has spoken better of the Heart of Jesus 
than he? She was imitating, likewise, her Mother St. 
de Chantal: and who has more piously contemplated 
and comprehended the beauty of Jesus Heart than she 
and the first Mothers of the Visitation ? In speaking 
thus, Margaret Mary went not beyond the purest spirit, 
the most venerable traditions of her Order. 

1 Annee Sainte, vol. ix. p. 215. 

8 Circular of April 17, 1746. 3 j^ 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 229 

God seemed, besides, to multiply at this time His 
revelations to her. She understood more and more 
clearly the Adorable Heart of Jesus, and it imparted to 
her words that warmth, that light, that fire which rises 
without effort to the lips of an emotional and enthu 
siastic person. They recall the character of the sub- 
limest revelations of the Sacred Heart, the Lord ap 
pearing to her in glory on the altar, His breast open, 
and His Heart palpitating with love. Later, as if God 
had wished to concentrate her regards on the Heart 
itself, it began to appear to her alone, on a throne, and 
amid dazzling light. "Once," said she, "the divine 
Heart was represented to me on a throne of fire and 
flames, transparent as crystal, more brilliant than the 
sun, and radiating beams on all sides. The wound it 
received on the cross was visible. Around the Sacred 
Heart was a crown of thorns, and above it a cross." 

"The Lord," she adds, "assured me that He takes 
particular pleasure in being honored under the figure of 
His Heart of flesh. He wished a picture of it to be 
publicly exposed, that it might touch the insensible 
hearts of men; and He promised me that He would 
pour out abundantly on all that honored it the treas 
ures of grace with which it is filled. Wherever this im 
age shall be exposed, it will bring down all sorts of 
benedictions." 

At another time Margaret Mary had a still clearer reve 
lation. To excite her to ask with more importunity for 
the adoration of men, God made her contemplate the 
adorations of the angels. " One day, when we were all 
working together picking hemp, I retired into a little 
corner, to be nearer the Blessed Sacrament. There my 
God lavished upon me the greatest graces. Whilst 
doing my work, I suddenly became perfectly recollected, 
interiorly and exteriorly. The Adorable Heart of my 
Jesus, more brilliant than a sun, was present to me. It 
1 Contemp., p. 87. 



230 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

was in the midst of the flames of His pure love, and 
surrounded by seraphim, who sang in ravishing har 
mony: 

" Love triumphs, love enjoys; 

The love of the Sacred Heart gladdens! 

" The blessed spirits invited me to join with them in 
praising the amiable Heart, but I dared not do it. Then 
they told me that they had come to unite with me in 
rendering it a continual homage of love, adoration, and 
praise, and at the same time they wrote this association 
in the Sacred Heart, in letters of gold and ineffaceable 
characters of love. This favor lasted two or three hours. 
All my life I have felt its effects, as well by the assistance 
I received from it as by the sweetness that it infused into 
my being and which its remembrance always produces 
in me. I remained abyssed in confusion. Henceforth 
in praying to the angels, I could no longer mention 
them but as my associates." 1 

Such visions were frequently vouchsafed Margaret 
Mary. " Every first Friday of the month," she says, 
"the Sacred Heart of Jesus was represented to me as a 
brilliant light, whose rays fell on my heart and inflamed 
it with a fire so ardent that it seemed as if about to be 
reduced to ashes." 8 

This, then, is what Jesus showed to Margaret Mary in 
her luminous ecstasies, a Heart: a Heart palpitating 
with love! She sees only that! In heaven and on 
earth adorable spectacle! all is contained in a Heart! 
Some religions have been made for the adoration of 
wisdom; others oh error! for the adoration of happi 
ness, even pleasure; and others, more degrading still, 
have been made for the worship of human strength. 
They all deceive themselves. Love only is adorable! 

Even sanctity, before which the Jews prostrated in 
the midst of the thunderbolts of Sinai, before which the 
cherubim veiled themselves with their wings, has not 
1 Contemp., p. 75, * Ib, 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 231 

the highest claim to man s adoration. Love wields the 
sceptre. 

It is love that has decreed that Christianity shall be 
the eternal religion of humanity. "If I say to a man, 
* I esteem you, can I say to him anything else?" cried 
out a great orator one day. " Yes; for I can say to him, 
I venerate you. And if I say to a man, I venerate 
you, can I say to him any more ? Have I in this word 
exhausted my vocabulary ? No; I have still one thing 
to say to him one only, the highest of all. I can say 
to him, I love you! Ten thousand words may pre 
cede it, but none other of any language can follow it. 
When one has said it once to a man, there is nothing 
left but ever and ever to repeat to him that selfsame 
word." In like manner, after power has been deified, 
wisdom also may be divinized; but after that comes 
love, and there ends the scale: we have nothing left 
but to adore it forever. 

What is the love that Christianity has been made to 
adore ? We may have remarked what our saint said 
when the Heart of Jesus was shown to her on a throne 
of fire and flames: " The wound that it had received was 
visible, and there was a crown of thorns around the 
Divine Heart." This vision frequently presented itself 
to her, and this character of immolation and of sacrifice 
was impressed upon her under a thousand forms. 
"Once," said she, " this loving Heart was shown me 
transpierced and torn with blows." 2 Another time it 
appeared to her " pierced with light, like a fathomless 
abyss, opened by an immeasurable arrow." "Gener 
ally the thorns of the crown surrounded the Heart so 
closely and pressed it so violently that it was wounded 
in every part, and the blood flowed in streams." 4 This 
was the meaning of the divine words of the Imitation : 
Et sine dolor e non vivitur in amore ! "Without sorrow 
there is no living in love." 5 

1 Contemp., p. 54. 2 Ib. 3 Ib. 4 Ib. 

6 Imitation of Christ, bk. in- rh . v . 



232 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Admirable thing! There are in the heart two poles: 
one by which we enjoy, and one by which we suffer. 
Of these two poles, one is meant to last forever. We 
shall carry it with us into eternity, for it is that by 
which we enjoy. But who w r ould believe it ? Here be 
low, on this sad earth, it must scarcely ever be brought 
into action. It is full of peril to the soul. It is neither 
great nor productive of great things. If one aspires to 
glory, to genius, withdraw this pole from the heart, 
this divine pole, this celestial pole, by which we en 
joy. Its hour is not yet come. It can achieve nothing 
here below but low and vulgar things. The laurel 
crown has ever rested on wounded foreheads, and the 
aureola of sanctity has never encircled any but crucified 
hearts. How beautiful, then, were these visions in 
which Margaret perceived, not only a Heart, but a 
Heart wounded, a Heart bruised, a Heart crowned and 
bleeding! She knew not how to detach herself from 
it. Her soul was never satiated with this vivifying 
sight, and her longest hours were employed in contem 
plating that wounded Heart, and trying to understand 
the ravishing mystery it proclaimed of immolation and 
of sacrifice. 

This was not, however, the only form under which 
the Sacred Heart was shown to Margaret Mary. There 
were others, also very beautiful, which incessantly reap 
peared: " a burning furnace;" " a furnace of love;" 2 " a 
lover attracting souls;" " an abyss into which the soul 
must plunge in order to be regenerated." 1 Sometimes 
Margaret Mary saw cold souls, frozen souls approach 
that furnace; and when about to warm themselves, 
they suddenly and foolishly took flight and lost them 
selves in darkness. She saw others come to the Heart 
of Jesus, cold, stunted, and deformed. On approaching 
it they were enlightened and inflamed, and they ended 
Sy losing themselves in it like sparks in a furnace. One 
1 Contemp., p. 90. Ib., p. 193. 3 Ib., p. 49 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 233 

day the Heart of Jesus appeared to her under this form 
of a burning furnace, into which two other hearts has 
tened to plunge. At the same moment she heard a voice 
saying to her: " Thus does My pure love unite these 
three hearts forever!" She knew that it was the heart 
of her holy director and her own that thus abyssed 
themselves in the Heart of Jesus. 1 

These visions passed at every moment before her eyes, 
raising her above the earth, making her a prophetess, 
and revealing to her the secrets of souls and the laws of 
a superior world. As in nature there is for the visible 
universe a centre of gravity around which revolve all 
the celestial bodies, now impelled toward it, now held 
back from it, thus governed by a double force that 
everywhere establishes harmony; so is there a centre of 
gravity in the moral universe, spotless and immovable 
amidst the tumult of the world: and that is the Heart 
of Jesus. There is only this difference between it and 
the attractive forces that govern the stars; the latter, 
though borne to their centre by attraction, are happily 
restrained by centrifugal force; but souls must break 
loose from this second force, this egoism, this person 
ality, that they may allow themselves to be carried to 
the Heart of Jesus and therein abyssed, for there will 
be no order, no happiness, until all are lost in it. 

This is what the blessed Sister saw. Can we marvel 
that she passed entire nights in contemplation, and 
that, when left on her knees at the foot of the tabernacle 
at seven o clock in the evening, she was found next 
morning in the same position, immovable and ecstatic ? 
But can any one imagine what must then have been her 
words, the light of her countenance, the ardor, the pas 
sion of her sentiments, and the inflamed eloquence that 
flowed from her lips ? However, discreet, and mistress 
of herself, having learned from the Holy Book that one 
should not divulge " the secret of the king," Margaret 
1 Contemp., p. 90. 



234 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Mary said nothing of her sublime revelations. If forced 
to speak, she did so vaguely and obscurely. One day, 
when Sister de la Farges, in the simplicity that belongs 
to the true Visitandine, asked her what she was doing 
on her knees perfectly immovable for so many long 
hours before the Blessed Sacrament, Margaret Mary 
merely replied that she was wholly occupied with the 
sorrows of Jesus in His Passion. But the young novice 
insisting, received the reply: "Whether I have or have 
not a body at that time, I should find it hard to say." 
On another occasion, walking with Sister Claude-Mar 
guerite Billiet, and passing near the little cluster of 
hazel-trees: " There," said she to her, " behold a spot 
redolent of graces for me! It is here that God made 
known tome the happiness of suffering, by theknowledge 
He has given me of His Passion." And to Sister Ver- 
chere, who had fallen suddenly ill in consequence of 
the significant prohibition to Margaret Mary to make 
the Holy Hour, she revealed for her consolation the 
secret of her prayer on the night between Thursday and 
Friday, and of her Communion of the first Friday of 
the month. 1 There was undoubtedly nothing in all 
this that could betray the secret of the grand revela 
tions of the Sacred Heart. But as time went on it be 
came more evident to all that God favored Sister Mar 
garet Mary with singular graces. At this period of the 
divine manifestations, although nothing definite was 
known, it was clear that a word, a single word, the least 
imprudent word, would suffice to reveal all, to throw 
light upon the obscure presentiments brooding in all 
souls. This was just what happened, and behold in 
what way: 

There had been two consecutive providential lights: 
one weak, but which aroused attention; the other abso 
lutely brilliant, and which banished all doubts. 

Sister Peronne-Rosalie de Farges, who was going 
1 Anne Sainte, vol. ix. p. 216. 



The Secret of the Revelations Escapes Her. 235 

into retreat, went to ask her mistress on what she should 
make her prayer during it. Margaret Mary gave her 
a book to help her. "In this book," says Sister de 
Farges, " she had by mistake left a note written 
by her own hand, and in very nearly these terms: 
The Lord made me understand this evening at prayer that 
He desires to be known, loved, and adored by men; that for 
this end He will communicate many graces to them when they 
shall have consecrated themselves to love and devotion toward 
His Sacred Heart " * We may well believe that Sister 
de Farges failed not to show this note to her dear com 
panions of the novitiate, and that by it Margaret Mary s 
reputation for sanctity increased. Her novices now be 
gan to suspect that it was not in books that she had 
learned what she said of the Adorable Heart of Jesus. 

Shortly after, an absolutely unforeseen event raised 
the veil. We must recall the fact that Father de la 
Colombiere was now dead two years, February 15, 1682. 
Among his papers had been found notes written during 
a retreat. These notes were so redolent of sanctity; 
they furnished so beautiful an idea of his great soul; 
they might, besides, be so useful to the pious in gen 
eral, that the Jesuits resolved to publish them. The 
work appeared at Lyons, under this title: "Spiritual 
Retreat of Rev. Father Claude de la Colombiere:" and, 
naturally enough, one of the first copies was sent to the 
Visitation of Paray. The good Mother Melin, before 
reading it herself, had it read aloud in the refectory, 
wishing thus to gratify more quickly the pious desires 
of all the Sisters. The little volume, which had excited 
veritable enthusiasm in the Community, was almost 
finished when the reader stumbled unexpectedly upon 
a certain passage; and, strange to say, Sister de Farges 
was reader that day. After saying that, should it please 
God to restore him to health, he resolved to promote 
with all his strength devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, 
1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister de Farges. 



236 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Father de la Colombiere added these words, which the 
Sister read with ever-increasing devotion: 

" I have recognized that God wishes me to serve Him 
by furthering the accomplishment of His desires con 
cerning a devotion He has suggested to a person to whom 
He has communicated Himself very intimately, and to serve 
whom He has graciously pleased to make use of my weakness. 
I have already taught it to many in England. I have 
written of it in France, and implored one of my friends 
to endeavor to make it appreciated. It will be very use 
ful to them, and the great number of chosen souls in 
that Community makes me think that its practice in 
that holy house will be very agreeable to God. Why, 
my God, cannot I everywhere publish what Thou dost 
expect from Thy servants and friends? 

"God, then, having revealed Himself to a person 
who, from the great graces that He has given her, 
we have reason to believe, according to His Heart, she 
explained them to me, and I obliged her to put in 
writing all that she told me. I have much desired to 
write it myself in the journal of my retreats, because 
the good God wishes, in the execution of this design, 
to make use of my poor services. 

" Being before the Blessed Sacrament during one of 
its octaves, said that holy soul, I received from my 
God some most sublime graces of His love. I was filled 
with the desire of making Him some return, and of 
rendering Him love for love; but He said to me: Thou 
canst never do anything greater for Me than what I have 
already so many times asked thee. And exposing to me His 
Divine Heart, See this Heart, said He, which has loved men 
so much that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and 
consuming itself, in order to testify to them its love. In re 
turn I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by 
reason of the contempt, irreverence, sacrilege, and coldness 
that they show Me in this sacrament of love. But what I 
feel yet more is that there are some hearts consecrated to Me 



The Blessed Sister among her Novices. 237 

that treat Me thus. It is for this reason that I ask thee that 
the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set 
apart as a special feast to honor My Heart, by making an act 
of reparation, and by communicating on that day to repair the 
indignities it sustained during the time of exposition on the 
altars. I promise thee that My Heart will expand to pour 
out abundantly the influence of its divine love upon all that 
will render it this honor! 

We have said that Sister Peronne-Rosalie de Farges 
was the reader. At the first word she divined all, and 
cast a furtive glance at Margaret Mary, who sat facing 
her in the refectory. "When," said she in her deposi 
tion, " I came to what concerned the revelation of the 
Sacred Heart, I looked at the venerable Sister. She 
was sitting with her eyes lowered and looking pro 
foundly annihilated." The Community felt the same 
emotion. "Not only deponent," continued Sister de 
Farges, " but the Community understood then that it 
was the said servant of God who had made these pre 
dictions." 2 

The young alone recoil not in the presence of what 
would deter or awe others. On leaving the refectory, 
Sister de Farges unhesitatingly approached the saint 
with: "Aha! my dear Sister, haven t you heard your 
manifestation in the reading to-day 3 to your heart s 
content ?" What could Margaret Mary do before so 
direct a question ? Deny it ? Impossible! Acknowl 
edge it? Her humility forbade such a course. "Saint 
like she bowed her head, and replied that she had great 
cause to love her abjection. " ; 

From that moment the novices entertained no more 
doubt on the subject. To them Margaret Mary was a 
saint honored by most secret communication with the 

1 Process of 1715, Deposition of Sister de Farges. 

2 Ib. 3 Ib. 

4 We are astonished that like facts have not yet been found in any 
life of Margaret Mary. 



238 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Lord. They divided among themselves little scraps of 
her clothing, and when Sister Anne-Alexis de Mare- 
schalle cut her hair, they eagerly strove for the relics. 
It is also probable that from this day Sister Margaret 
Mary maintained a little less reserve in her communi 
cations with her young novices. She regarded the reve 
lation made by Father de la Colombiere as provi 
dential, and the Friday after the octave of Corpus 
Christi "she ventured to hang on the novitiate altar a 
little pen-and-ink picture of the Sacred Heart." 

The feast of the saintly mistress, July 20, 1685, was 
now approaching, and the novices resolved to celebrate 
it with pious solemnity, in accord with the sentiments 
they entertained for her. Margaret Mary, noticing this 
preparation, asked them smilingly if they desired to 
make her very happy. Reading the answer in the glow 
ing countenances of her dear novices, she begged that all 
the testimonies of affection they were preparing for her 
should be offered to the Divine Heart of Jesus. The 
novices understood, and in an instant changed their 
plans. Under a stairway that led to the tower or bel 
fry, was an apartment large enough to accommodate a 
little altar, and very capable of being transformed into 
an oratory. Sister des Claines seized her brush, and 
covered the walls, the ceilings, the rafters, the planks 
with flowers and stars and fiery hearts that may still be 
seen. 2 They erected an altar, ornamented it with roses, 
and placed in its centre the little picture of the Sacred 

1 The original is at the Visitation of Turin. We read at the bottom: 
This picture is the first ever venerated under the title of the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus, in the novitiate of the Visitation convent of Paray." 
The Heart is surrounded by a crown of thorns and surmounted by a 
cross. Not knowing how to express the love that consumed it. the 
opening with a lance is represented, and in the centre is written "Chari- 
tas." Around the crown we read " Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Joachim, 
Anne." We do not know whether this picture is by the hand of Mar 
garet Mary herself or by that of one of her novices, 

2 Annee Sainte, vol. ix. p. 730. 



First Public Adoration of the Sacred Heart. 239 

Heart from the novitiate. With Mother Meiin s con 
sent they had noiselessly employed part of the night in 
this work. In the morning, however, they were less for 
tunate ; for having advanced their duties, in the refec 
tory, in their eager joy, they forgot themselves a little, 
and thus attracted the attention of some of the deai 
Sisters. Informed by them of what was taking place, 
Mother Melin went to seek the novices. But they soon 
gave her reasons so good for what she had heard that 
she went away satisfied, and the little troop finished 
their humble preparations in peace. 

At nine o clock, Prime being over, Margaret Mary 
went to the novitiate, whence, without saying a word, 
she was led to the little oratory. Surprised and de 
lighted, she thanked her dear novices for the joy they 
gave her. Radiant, and with the ardor of a seraph, she 
addressed to them some glowing words; and then, pros 
trating before the picture, her example followed by the 
novices, she publicly consecrated herself to the Sacred 
Heart. Each of the novices did the same, repeating in 
turn the words of the formula Margaret Mary had used. 
After this she invited them to retire awhile with her 
into solitude, there to write the sentimenis with which 
they had just been penetrated, promising them to add a 
word below their act of consecration. The whole morn 
ing was thus piously and joyously passed. 

After the noon-obedience Margaret Mary again re 
united her novices around the little altar. She was even 
more radiant than in the morning, the happiness of her 
holy soul beaming in her countenance. She congratu 
lated her novices, and blessed God. In her transports 
of love, she would have wished the rest of the Com 
munity to come to offer their homage to the Heart of 
her good Master. 1 

Hearing her speak thus, the amiable and impetuous 
Sister Verchere hurried off to the Sisters, who were walk- 

1 Contemp., p. 206. 



240 Life of Blessed Alar gar et Mary Alacoque. 

ing in the garden, related to them what was taking 
place in the novitiate, and begged them to come offer 
their homage to the Heart of Jesus. But she was rather 
ungraciously received. " As they were daughters of 
strict observance," wrote their contemporaries, "to whom 
this just proposition was made, they sent her back 
more quickly than she had come, telling her that it was 
not the province of little novices to introduce novelties, 1 
and quoted a point of the Rule by which such things 
are absolutely prohibited." Sister Verchere said, also, 
in her deposition : " The most exact were decidedly the 
most opposed, because they feared novelty." 

Of this number was Sister Catherine-Augustine Ma- 
rest, renowned for the ardor of her penance, frequently 
carried to heroism; Sister Marie-Seraphique de la Mar- 
tiniere, always recollected as an angel, and so tender.ly 
united to God that our old Memoires say she died of 
love ; finally, and especially, Sister Marie-Madeleine 
des Escures, whom the contemporary manuscripts call 
" the saintly Mother Marie-Madeleine." 4 It was she 
who was most persistent in her refusal, " although she 
was the intimate friend of their incomparable mistress." * 

1 Conternp., p. 208. 

2 Constitutions of the Visitation, Constitution XVIII. "Now, as 
human minds are apt to take a secret complacency in their own con 
ceits, even under a pretext of devotion or of an increase of piety ; and 
as it nevertheless happens at times that a multiplicity of offices hinders 
due attention, alacrity, and reverence, the Community shall not be 
allowed, under any pretext whatever, to charge itself with any other 
Office, or ordinary prayers, but those that are assigned in these Con 
stitutions and in the Directory. For thus it will be better qualified and 
better able to say and sing the Office with that gravity and respect now 
observed in it." 

3 Process of 1715. 

4 Contemp., p. 208. 

5 "Abridgment of the Life and Virtues of our dear Sister Marie- 
Elizabeth de la Salle." She was placed under the direction of our very 
honored Sister Marie-Madeleine des Escures, one of the best friends of 
our venerable Sister Alacoque, who always regarded her as a true 
saint. 



First Pitb lie Adoration of the Sacred Heart. 241 

" Go say to your mistress," she replied to Sister Ver- 
chere, " that the best devotion is the practice of our 
Rules and Constitutions ; and that that is what she 
ought to teach you and the others to practise well." 

Little Sister Verchere did not expect this reception ; 
she was, consequently, much astonished and embar 
rassed. However, not to sadden her mistress on such a 
day, she merely said, on returning, that the Sisters could 
not come. 

" Say, rather," quickly responded Margaret, " that 
they will not come. But the Sacred Heart will force 
them to render it homage." And alluding to Sister 
Marie-Madeleine, she continued : " There are some now 
opposed to it, but the time will come when they will be 
the first to forward the devotion." This, indeed, hap 
pened in the most unexpected manner before the end 
of the year. 

Margaret Mary was in reality right in calling the 
whole Community to render homage to the Heart of 
Jesus, because she had received that commission from 
God. In refusing to go, Mother Marie-Madeleine had 
done no wrong ; for Margaret Mary s mission was not 
yet vouched for by any one, not by the Pope, the de 
finitive and sovereign judge of devotions in the Church; 
nor by the diocesan bishop, the judge in the first in 
stance, nor even by Margaret Mary s Superiors. Mother 
Marie-Madeleine waited, then, faithful guardian of the 
Rules, holding to them, and doing well to hold to them, 
since she was not yet authorized to stray from them ; 
although, assuredly, if she had looked into them a little 
more carefully, and if she had had a broader and more 
liberal mind, she would have understood that this de 
votion came forth from the very bowels of Christianity; 
or, without going so far, she would have found it born 
of the books of even St. Francis de Sales and St. Chan- 
tal. But though very holy, Mother Marie-Madeleine 
rose not so high. In this house she represented the 



242 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Atacoque. 

positive side, the practical and literal interpreta 
tion : and in that is contained all that is absolutely nec 
essary to a Community. It is, moreover, the most se 
cure, provided its members acknowledge that God can 
make exceptions, and know how to submit to them when 
the trial shall be made. This will happen at the time 
fixed, and will crown saintly Mother Madeleine with an 
aureola most pure. After having resisted so long as the 
will of God was not manifested to her by the voice of 
her Superiors, she was the first to submit after they had 
spoken. We shall see her prostrating before the Sacred 
Heart, bringing after her the entire Community, and 
making a public consecration, which will at the same 
time be an act of contrition and reparation. 

The rest of the day was passed in the novitiate in 
peace and recollection almost heavenly. That evening- 
Margaret Mary again assembled her novices. She ap 
peared to them as if transfigured. The manuscript here 
repeats an expression already used twice before, and 
which better than any other conveys the general impres 
sion : "She looked like a seraph." It is probable that 
with prophetic gaze she saw far ahead of her own age. 
In this little novitiate adoration she beheld similar acts 
multiplied in the future ; she saw them become uni 
versal and perpetual, rewarming the Church, saving 
France, and bringing to God new and greater accidental 
glory. 

Good Mother Melin had sanctioned this feast; but 
seeing how it was received in the Community, she now 
believed it her duty prudently to efface it. She was a 
peace-loving soul, unequalled in sweetness, her great con 
descension gaining for her the title of a true daughter 
of St. Francis de Sales, a title acquired by the imitation 
of the great saint s virtues. 1 That evening, therefore, 
the novices having retired, she went to find Margaret 

1 Contemp., p. 210. 



First Public Adoration of the Sacred Heart. 243 

Mary ; and, though permitting her to adore and teach 
the Heart of Jesus in the novitiate, yet, in order to 
calm minds, she forbade her to do anything that could 
attract the attention of the Community. 

Margaret Mary obeyed : first, because she always 
obeyed; and secondly, because, having cast a look on the 
Adorable Heart of her good Master, she thought she 
heard a voice that said to her : " Fear nothing, My 
daughter. I shall reign in spite of My enemies and 
those that wish to oppose Me." Of enemies He 
had none in the convent, since " it was the most ex 
emplary ; " though there were some that, " fearing nov 
elty, made opposition." We shall not be slow, however, 
to meet them in the world ; and the way in which the 
Heart of Jesus will triumph over them, and " reign in 
spite of them," will furnish the greatest proof that the 
finger of God is here. 

1 Contemp., p. 211. 



LIBRARY 

^ 




244 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE APOSTOLATE OF THE SACRED HEART BEGUN 
WITH WHAT MODESTY AND ZEAL MARGARET MARY 
BEGINS TO SPREAD DEVOTION TO THE SACRED 
HEART. 

1686-1689, 

" Ite, angeli veloces, ad gentem convulsam et dilaceratam; ad popu- 
lum terribilem, post quern non est alius; ad gentem expectantem et 
conculcatam, cujus diripuerunt flumina terram ejus." 

"Go, ye swift angels, to a nation rent and torn in pieces: to a 
terrible people, after which there is no other : to a nation expecting and 
trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled." Isaias 
xviii. 2. 

" Trahe me, post te curremus in odorem unguentorum tuorum." 

" O Heart of Jesiis, draw me! We will run after Thee to the odor 
of thy ointments." Cant. i. 3. 

& 
Ti N asking Sister Margaret Mary to desist for the 

1T present from any effort to spread the new devotion 
in the Community, Mother Melin had not forbid 
den her to labor at making it known outside the grate. 
The hour was come. Margaret Mary was more and 
more consumed with love of the Adorable Heart. This 
divine fire, having been restrained so long, must now be 
allowed to burn unchecked. With the Lord, Margaret 
Mary might have said: " I am come to bring fire on the 
earth." 

At the beginning of this year, 1686, she wrote: " It 
seems to me that I can breathe only to increase devotion 
to the Heart of Jesus. He sometimes enkindles in my 
heart so great a desire to make it reign in all other hearts 
that there is nothing I would not wish to do and suffer 
for this end. Even the pains of hell, without sin, would 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 245 

be sweet to me." " I am no longer able to occupy my 
self with any other thought than that of the Sacred 
Heart of my Jesus. I should die content could I procure 
it any honor, even should my efforts bring me as recom 
pense only eternal pain. Provided I love Jesus and 
that He reigns, it is enough for me. Contradiction 
often made me almost resolve to cease speaking of His 
Heart; but I was so severely reproved for my vain fears, 
and afterwards so strengthened and encouraged, that I 
have determined, whatever it may cost me, to pursue 
my purpose to the end. But if obedience should not 
permit me, I shall stop; for to it I defer all my views 
and sentiments." * " Life is to me so heavy a cross that 
I can find no consolation in it, excepting that of seeing 
the Heart of my Saviour reign. For this there is nothing 
that I would not wish to suffer." ; 

The first two of the foregoing extracts are from a 
letter addressed to Mother Greyfie, who, after leaving 
Paray in 1684, had been nominated Superioress of the 
Visitation of Semur-en-Auxois. The third is taken from 
a letter to Mother deSaumaise, who was then Superior 
ess at Dijon. Mother de Saumaise had passed three years 
at Moulins, where she prepared Mother de Soudeilles 
to understand and relish the mystery of devotion to the 
Heart of Jesus. These were the three religious chosen 
to begin the work of the apostolate. Hidden in her 
humility, not wishing to appear in anything, having a 
"horror of letters and the parlor," Blessed Margaret 
Mary will be their inspiratrix. They, more advanced in 
years; more at liberty, since they are at the head of 
Communities; and more fearless, since it was not to 
them that the revelations had been made; they, to use 
the expression of Mother de Saumaise, will be the 
speaking-trumpets, the precursors, the heralds of the 
Sacred Heart. The first thing that Blessed Margaret 

1 Letters of Blessed Margaret Mary. Letter XXXV. 

2 Letter XXXV. 3 Letter LXXX. 



246 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Mary desired was a picture that would attract the gaze 
and prepare the heart. No devotion can become pop 
ular without this condition, and all great love has need 
of it. Hardly were the first Christians inclosed in the 
catacombs, before they wished to provide for them 
selves this gratification. They tried to paint on the 
walls of their obscure abodes the features of the Saviour, 
of His Virgin-Mother, and of the apostles. Unskilful 
as were their brushes, coarse and imperfect as may be 
their sketches, they are even at the present day; even 
after Fra Angelico and Raphael, not without some 
charm for those that contemplate them. They are 
wanting in art, but not in heart. Similar things will 
take place at Paray, whose inmates were at first satisfied 
with " a simple pen-and-ink drawing on paper," but who 
now long for something better. The difficulty was, 
however, very great. There was question not only of 
representing but of idealizing a heart, and, by some 
magical stroke of the brush, to show forth in it both 
divinity and love. Van Eyck has skilfully depicted in 
the face of a lamb all the majesty of a God. But there 
was no Van Eyck at Paray. Alas! no Van Eyck has 
since arisen, neither at Paray nor elsewhere. After two 
whole centuries of trial and methodizing, we are still 
awaiting the master-hand that shall make the canvas 
breathe the immaterial beauty of the passiga that con 
sumed Margaret Mary, the Adorable Hera rt "of Jesus 
Christ. Meantime, as in the catacombs, Paray is trying 
some strokes of her timid brush. 

One month after the novitiate fete, Mafgaret Mary 
wrote to Mother de Saumaise, to beg her t&come to her 
assistance. " There has been here," said she to her, " a 
young man from Paris, a relative of one of our Sister- 
novices. The latter having spoken to him of it, he 
generously offered to procure for us a picture as beauti 
ful as we can desire. All that we have to do is to find 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 247 

the model." 1 This was the difficulty. To encourage 
Mother de Saumaise to overcome it, and to seek at 
Dijon, the old capital of Burgundy and the focus of 
letters and art, a painter capable of a task so difficult, 
Margaret Mary spoke to her of a vision she had just 
had. In it Our Lord had told her that souls devout to 
His Sacred Heart should never perish; and that, as it 
is the source of all benedictions, He would pour them 
out abundantly upon every place in which the image 
of this amiable Heart should be exposed for love and 
adoration; that He would by this means reunite divided 
families; that He would protect souls in necessity; and 
that He would give a special grace of salvation and 
sanctification to the first who would have this holy pic 
ture made. 2 

On another occasion she wrote with even more im 
portunity: " I should be very much pleased to know 
whether you can do something that the Sacred Heart 
of our good Master has destined and reserved for you. 
. . . It is that, as you have been the first to whom He 
is well pleased that I disclose His ardent desire of being 
known, loved, and adored by His creatures, He wishes 
you to be the one that will have a plate made of the 
picture of the Sacred Heart; so that all that wish to 
render Him special homage may have those pictures in 
their houses, and smaller ones to carry on their person. 
It seems to me that it would be a great happiness for 
you to be able to procure Him this honor, for which you 
will be more abundantly recompensed than for any 
thing that you have hitherto done in your whole life." 

In similar terms, and with yet more ardor of soul, 
Margaret Mary wrote of it to Mother Greyfie: " If you 
knew, my good Mother, how much I feel urged to- love 
the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ! It seems 
to me that life was only given me for this! . . . He has 
favored me with a visit that has been extremely advan- 

1 Letter XXXVI. * Letter XXXII. 3 Letter XXXVI. 



248 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

tageous to me, owing to the good impressions it has left 
in my heart. He has repeated that the pleasure He 
takes in being loved, known, and honored by His crea 
tures is so great that, if I do not mistake, He has prom 
ised me that they who shall have been devout to His 
Heart shall never perish; and that, as He is the source 
of all benedictions, He will pour them out abundantly 
upon every spot in which shall be exposed and honored 
the image of His divine Heart." Margaret Mary, hav 
ing specified those benedictions almost in the same 
terms as in her letter to Mother de Saumaise, adds: 
" He has given me to know that His Sacred Heart is the 
Holy of holies, the sanctuary of love; that He wishes 
to be known in our day as the Mediator between God 
and man, for He is all-powerful to restore us peace, by 
turning from us the chastisements our sins deserve, and 
to obtain mercy for us." 

Mother Greyfie had just finished reading Pere de la 
Colombiere s Retreat. That reading on the one side, 
this letter on the other, the perfect knowledge that she 
had of the sublime revelation of the Sacred Heart and 
of the Sister s sanctity, convinced her that the hour 
for a solemn act was come. Having, probably, at her 
command a painter of some merit, she caused a picture 
of the Adorable Heart of Jesus to be executed in oil, 
and hung it above the altar of a little oratory. There, 
at the head of the Community, she knelt and solemnly 
consecrated herself to the Heart of her Divine Master. 
"No one could have repaired more simply her former 
hesitancy, nor given to the whole Order, of which she 
was one of the most eminent Superioresses, a more 
brilliant example. Moreover, wishing to give Margaret 
Mary a present that would go straight to her heart, she 
had a copy of the picture made, added to it a dozen 
little pen-and-ink drawings of the Sacred Heart, and 
sent them to her for a Christmas gift. 

1 Letter XXXI II. 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 249 

The Blessed Sister could not contain her joy. She 
wrote at once to Mother Greyfie and thanked her 
heartily: " I cannot tell you the consolation that you 
have given me both by sending me the representation 
of the amiable Heart and by wishing to help us honor 
jt with all your Community. You have caused me trans 
ports of joy a thousand times greater than if you had 
put me in possession of all the treasures of the world." 
A little later she says: "I shall now die content, since 
the Sacred Heart of my Saviour begins to be known 
and I remain unknown. I remind you of your promise 
to me, namely, to do all you can to prevent any mention 
of me after my death, except to ask prayers for the 
most needy and wicked religious of the Institute. . . ." 
She concludes with: "He wishes that I should say to 
you that your Community has so won His friendship, by 
being the first to render adoration to His Heart, that 
it has become the object of His complacency. When 
praying for it, He does not wish that I should name 
it other than the well -be loved Community of His Heart." 

Whilst thus, in terms of admirable humility, pouring 
out her gratitude to Mother Greyfie, Margaret Mary 
lost no time in distributing the little pictures to those 
who would most profit by them. She sent one to the 
Jesuit Fathers of Paray, two to Mother de Soudeilles 
and to Sister de la Barge at Moulins, and one to Mother 
de Saumaise at Dijon. The last mentioned was accom 
panied by an imploring request to have a copper-plate 
engraving of it made, for the little pen designs could 
not be distributed in sufficiently large numbers. " If," 
said sh., " we had a plate, we could scatter them far and 
wide." 

Mother de Soudeilles, having received the two pic 
tures of the divine Heart, kept the smaller one to wear 
always on her heart; and the larger she exposed for 
the veneration of the Sisters in the room in which 
1 Letter XXXIV. 



250 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

their sainted foundress had died. From that day the 
oratory was more than ever frequented; and on the 
first Friday of every month the whole Community used 
to assemble there to make on their knees the Act of 
Reparation. 

Deeper, perhaps, than even the joyous impression 
made upon Margaret Mary herself on learning of the 
solemn consecration of Semur to the Sacred Heart was 
that produced on the Community of Paray, and on 
Sister Madeleine des Escures in particular. The con 
vent of Paray was, so to say, divided at that time into 
two large parties: the party of the aged, the rigid ob 
servers of the Rule, fervent guardians of the customs, 
having at their head Sister Marie-Madeleine; and the 
younger members, formed by Margaret Mary, over whom 
reigned her holy influence and into whom she had instilled 
some of her own devotedness to the Heart of Jesus. 
Between these two parties the prudence of good Mother 
Melin maintained peace. Mother Greyfie, so rigid and 
so firm in her goodness, had once belonged to the first- 
mentioned party; consequently, when what she had 
just done became known, a profound sensation was 
created, and no one felt it more sensibly than Sister 
Marie-Madeleine. In her heart she had always been 
tenderly united to Margaret Mary, whom she both 
loved and venerated; but her reason inclined toward 
Mother Greyfie. She knew her as a rigorous observer 
of the least point of the Rule; she knew her as no 
innovatrix, and as one that acted only after most 
serious reflection. She had lived six years under her 
administration, and she regarded her as one of the pil 
lars of observance, one of the firmest columns of the 
Institute. If, then, Mother Greyfie had prostrated be 
fore the Sacred Heart, and solemnly inaugurated the 
new devotion, why should she still hesitate ? Who could 
doubt after such an example ? Surely there was nothing 
contrary either to the letter of the Rule or to the spirit 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 251 

of the Visitation, much less to the doctrines of holy 
Church. Sister Madeleine spoke of it to Mother Melin, 
who had long been a secret adherent of the sacred cause, 
and in union with her she quickly and quietly prepared 
for a public act of reparation. 

For this they chose the Friday after the octave of 
Corpus Christi, the day fixed by the eternal decrees to 
be in the Church the great day of adoration of the 
Heart of Jesus. That morning, on entering the choir, 
the Sisters perceived in the middle of it something like 
a little repository. They drew near, and looked at it. 
On a little altar covered with tapestry was exposed, in 
the midst of flowers and blessed tapers, a picture of the 
Sacred Heart, the same that Mother Greyfie had sent 
to Margaret Mary. A card, signed by Sister Madeleine, 
was fastened to the altar. It bore on it an invitation to 
the Sisters to kneel and consecrate themselves to the 
Adorable Heart of the Lord. No longer did they 
hesitate. The old without exception, led by Sister 
Madeleine, the young conducted by Margaret Mary, in 
w T hose enthusiasm they shared, prostrated like two 
choirs of angels. The latter offered to their Lord 
joyous adoration; the former, prayers mingled with 
regrets, all uniting to form the purest incense most 
agreeable to God. If the young had glorified Him by 
their eagerness, the others had hardly done less by their 
prudence. Blessed Margaret Mary and Sister Madeleine 
embraced, and henceforth there throbbed in that convent 
but one heart to praise God and to adore the divine 
Heart of Jesus. In the fervor of their enthusiasm, all 
agreed upon the erection of a chapel in which to expose 
a beautiful, large picture of the Sacred Heart. 

Whilst awaiting the realization of this project, and 
the better to repair what she termed her fault, Sister 
Marie-Madeleine asked to be allowed the care of the 
little oratory consecrated by the novitiate to the Heart 
of Jesus. " I tell you that we have a second picture of 



252 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

the Sacred Heart, and it is our dear Sister de Farges 
who painted it. It is, as I have desired, for the little 
chapel that was first erected to the honor of the divine 
Heart. Our dear Sister des Escures has charge of it, 
and it is a little bijou, so beautifully does she adorn 
it." 

Margaret Mary did not, however, lose sight of her 
first project. A picture in oil was all very well, though 
capable of being used only in one place. Some on 
vellum done with the pen were, consequently, executed 
everywhere, at Paray, Dijon, Semur, and Moulins. 
But notwithstanding this activity, the demand for these 
pictures was constant. A copper-plate became absolutely 
necessary to produce them in considerable numbers and 
enable them to be distributed among the faithful. 
Margaret wrote about it to Mother de Saumaise, who 
was busily occupied at the time in having a large pic 
ture painted, and insisted that that was not what the 
Lord demanded of her. " It was to be," said Margaret. 
" a picture struck from a stamp, or a plate, so that every 
one could freely purchase according to his devotion." 2 

Meanwhile a Jesuit Father from Lyons proposed 
having a copper-plate made. He urged the matter, and 
showed great zeal for its prosecution. But when, at 
last, he received the commission to attend to it, he 
failed to take any further steps. He was, in truth, 
always travelling, always on missions. He promised 
everything, but accomplished nothing. At last, when 
sent to Aix, he proposed taking the picture with him 
and having it executed there. But this offer was not 
feasible. After a thousand difficulties, Margaret Marv 
succeeded in getting the model out of his hands. She 
sent it next to Mother de Saumaise, earnestly conjuring 
her to undertake the work. " Behold, my dear Mother," 
she wrote, " the drawing that the good Father has re 
turned to us, though not without real dissatisfaction ? 
1 Letter LXXX. 2 Letter XXXIX. 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 253 

not being able to accomplish the work. But God does 
all for the best. He wills the picture to be better done; 
for the model, of which the Father sent us the copy, is 
neither pretty nor to my taste. You will oblige me 
infinitely by changing it." 1 

Mother de Saumaise had with her at Dijon a young 
Sister, Jeanne-Madeleine Joly, who was distinguished by 
her most tender devotion to the Sacred Heart. To her 
she communicated the contents of this letter, and ex 
pressed the wish that she would try to draw another 
that would better correspond to Margaret Mary s ideal. 
Trie Sister undertook the task with simplicity, and fully 
succeeded. "I cannot express," the Blessed Sister 
wrote immediately, " my sweet transports of joy on re 
ceiving your model. It is just what I desired. The 
consolation I experience from the ardor you evince for 
the Sacred Heart is beyond my power to express. Go 
on with your work, my dear Sister, for I hope this 
divine Heart will reign in spite of all opposition. As 
for myself, I can but suffer and be silent." 2 The model 
which corresponded so well to Margaret Mary s wishes 
was not, however, executed at Dijon. After many un 
successful preliminaries, it was sent to Paris, where, by 
the help of the first convent, the copper-plate so long 
desired was finally engraven. 

The first step had now been taken for the royal 
glorification of the Heart of Jesus, and the diffusion of 
its devotion. Besides the pictures in oil, which began 
to multiply, the miniatures on vellum, the little pastels, 
the pen drawings that circulated from convent to con 
vent and were already distributed on the missions, 
there was now, after innumerable difficulties, a plate 
from which could be struck as many copies as were 
needed for distribution throughout the world. 

Useful, however, as was the picture in making known 
and propagating the devotion to the Sacred Heart, it 
1 Letter LX. 2 Letter LXI. 



1 54 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

was in itself far from being sufficient. A book explain 
ing the picture now became necessary; a book to inter 
pret the devotion, and offer to the faithful suitable 
prayers, litanies, and acts of adoration and reparation. 
Had Margaret Mary been commissioned to do so, she 
could have composed on this subject so many medita 
tions, so many rapturous effusions, aspirations, and 
prayers, that to choose from them would have been an 
embarrassing task. But who would have dared suggest 
such a thing to her ? That would have been to plunge 
her "even to the centre of her nothingness."* Sister 
Jeanne-Madeleine Joly, the successful artiste of the 
Sacred Heart, conceived the idea of writing a little 
book of a few pages only, to explain the picture. She 
notified Blessed Margaret Mary of her intention, and 
received in return most hearty congratulations with an 
urgent request to hasten the work. 1 Submitted to Mgr. 
de Langres and approved by his Vicar-General, the 
tiny manual was printed before the end of the year, and 
copies despatched at once to every convent of the 
Order. 2 It accompanied the picture and rendered it 
intelligible. 

At Moulins, Mother de Soudeilles had conceived the 
same idea as Sister Joly. She, too, composed a little 
work on devotion to the Heart of Jesus. But, less dis 
creet than Sister Joly, she inserted some prayers and 
acts of consecration composed by Margaret Mary, thus 
raising a corner of the veil under which the latter had 
so carefully concealed herself. "We send you," wrote 
Margaret Mary to Mother de Saumaise, " the little book 
that Mother de Soudeilles has had published. After its 
appearance, some persons of consideration (but who 
they are I do not know) made her a present of the Litan 
ies of the Sacred Heart, the Act of Reparation, and the 
rest; and that has given me what I deserve, namely, 
frightful confusion. As you read it, you will clearly 
* Letter XLVII, > Letter LX VI, 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 255 

understand what I would say. I need not explain 
further. I have in some manner reason to accuse you; 
but the will of God be done !" 

Soon a Little Office of the Sacred Heart appeared, 
composed by a saintly religious, upon whom Margaret 
pronounced an extraordinary eulogium. He is so con 
cealed under the cloak of humility that it was with 
difficulty that we were able to discover his name. The 
details of his life remain to us a secret. All we know 
is that he belonged to the Society of Jesus, and was 
called Father Gette. "You ask me the name of the 
saintly religious who, in the thought that the divine 
Heart required it of him, has composed a Little Office 
of the Sacred Heart. Excuse me at present from telling 
you. I can say only that he will be a second Pere de la 
Colombiere." 2 The Office was published, and shortly 
after put into French verse. " Adieu, my dear Mother ! 
I think it will not be disagreeable to you for me to pre 
sent to you a copy in verse of the Office of the Sacred 
Heart. It is considered very beautiful." 1 

The success of these little works, joined to the picture 
of the Sacred Heart, was considerable. The demand 
for them everywhere increased. Every one wished to 
have them. "We pray your charity to let us know 
whether they still publish those little Sacred Heart books; 
and if you do us the favor of sending us some, we shall 
remain infinitely obliged to you. You cannot conceive 
how eagerly they are asked for." 4 And again: " There 
is such a demand here for those little books that we can 
never have sufficient to satisfy the devotion of every 
one." And elsewhere: "They have put the price of 
this book at seven sous. The first edition having been 
exhausted in a wondrously short time, behold already 
a second; and I do not believe it will stop there." 6 

The above could be said not only of Paray, Dijon, 

1 Letter LVIII. 2 Letter LXXXIII. 

3 Letter LXXXVII. 4 Letter LXXXVIII. 

6 Letter XCI, 6 Letter CU, 



256 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



Semur, Moulins, the places in which the devotion took 
birth; but at Lyons, Marseilles, Paris, everywhere, the 
same eagerness was manifested. " I must tell you some 
thing to the glory of the divine Heart, which will lead 
you to bless it anew. I gave a person from Lyons one 
of the little books of Dijon. She sent it to a young 
Father, who, having read it, showed it to his scholars 
at Lyons. They liked it so much that they made num 
bers of copies of the litanies and prayers, which they now 
recite with great devotion. These children, moreover, 
having shown them to others, the devotion took flights 
so grand that, as the manuscript copies failed to meet 
the demand, they resolved to have the book printed, and 
eagerly offered to defray the expense dependent upon 
it. A young workman urged the point with so much 
earnestness that it was found necessary to yield to his 
importunities. One of the most prominent publishers 
of Lyons was applied to for the purpose; and, touched 
by the love of the divine Heart, he took the resolution 
to do it at his own expense. This gave rise to a pious 
struggle between the young workman and himself. The 
latter having gained his point, he demanded the book 
on the Sacred Heart, and took it to one of his friends to 
make some additions to it. A saintly religious under 
took the task. 2 They have had a new edition printed, 
which is very beautiful and well bound. The demand 
for it has been so great that they have had a second 
edition of it since June i9th. This is only August 2ist, 
and they are bringing out the third edition." 

The little book begins to be known out of France. " I 
assure you, my unique Mother, that it is a consolation 
for all that love it to see the devotion extending every 
where. The most honored Mother of our first convent 
of Lyons has sent it to Poland I mean the little book 
for which they asked, and which they are going to trans 
late into Italian." * 

1 Horace Molin. 2 Pere Croiset. 

8 Letter CV. 4 Letter CXIII. 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 257 

Margaret Mary again writes, October 22d, 1689: 
" What consolation to hear of the happy progress of this 
sweet devotion! They write us from Lyons that the 
ardor and eagerness with which souls take to it are truly 
miraculous. They mention three or four cities in which 
the book is going to be published. Marseilles is one of 
them, and they have taken a thousand for that place 
alone. Of the twenty-seven religious houses in that 
city, there is not one that has not taken up this devo 
tion so ardently that some are already raising altars, 
others erecting chapels for it" 1 The devotion grew of 
itself. After the picture, the altar; after the altar, the 
chapel. They arose everywhere. This was a species of 
homage that was still wanting to the Adorable Heart of 
Jesus; one superior to all others, because more brilliant, 
more popular, and more lasting. 

The first of all these chapels, that which had been 
enthusiastically agreed upon the day on which the entire 
Community of the convent of Paray prostrated before 
the Heart of Jesus, was finished September yth, 1689, and 
dedicated with extraordinary solemnity. "The cures 
of the city and neighboring parishes, accompanied by 
immense crowds, assembled at the parish church, and 
then came in procession to our inclosure. The cere 
mony began at one o clock, and lasted two hours." 
On the altar was exposed the picture of the Sacred 
Heart that Mother de Saumaise had had enlarged from 
Mother Greyfie s miniature, and of which Margaret 
Mary had said: "I could not refrain from looking at it, 
for it is so beautiful." ; 

During the two hours that the pious ceremony lasted, 
our humble and happy Margaret knelt in the chapel, so 
ravished and abyssed in God that, among the many who 
so greatly desired to speak to her, not one dared do so. 
Numbers that had never before seen her regarded her 
with curiosity. They surrounded her on all sides. 

1 Letter CVI1I. 2 Contemp , p. 282. 3 Letter LXXVIII. 



258 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Some even watched to se-e whether she would change 
her position; but she knelt immovable as a statue. 1 

What was passing at that moment in the interior of 
this holy lover of Jesus ? That is a secret she never 
betrayed. But on beholding the triumph of the Sacred 
Heart, her soul must have cried out with the aged 
Simeon: "Now I shall die content, since the Heart of 
my Saviour begins to be known and adored." 

The only regret we can have is that this chapel is 
built in the middle of the garden, in a place inaccessible 
to the people, instead of being located on the street. 
But piety was not to be checked by any obstacle. The 
people made the tour of the garden; and peasants 
were seen kneeling outside, leaning against the walls, 
their gaze turned toward that first temple in which was 
publicly adored the Heart of Jesus. 3 Then began 
the triumphal march of this great and tender devotion 
to Infinite Love! We can trace its progress in each of 
Margaret Mary s letters. Hidden and obscure at 
first, concealed, so to say, in the shadow of the cloister, 
we behold it clearing the grates, overcoming all bar 
riers, and appearing in full daylight. The chapel of 
Paray was soon followed by a second, that of Bois- 
Sainte-Marie, built by Margaret s own brother. Then 
came that of Dijon, and a little later those of Moulins 
and Semur. Each Visitation house was soon to have 
its own. The devotion was begun. " I am most consoled 
to be able to tell you that great devotion is here enter 
tained to the divine Heart of Jesus. Some persons who 
made novenas with lighted .tapers have received what 
they asked." 1 "I have heard that a congregation is 
about to be erected under the title of the Sacred Heart 
of Jesus. I do not know whether it is at Paris or not, 
but I do know that there is another entirely dedicated 
to its honor," 4 

1 Contemp., p. 282. 8 Letter CXIV. 

3 Ib 4 Letter CI. 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 259 

The last and highest act of homage, however, still 
remained to be rendered. Hitherto the devotion had 
been individual and private. To crown the honor thus 
far rendered the Sacred Heart, public worship must be 
joined to private, the Holy Sacrifice must be solemnly 
offered in honor of the Adorable Heart. Again it was 
to little Sister Jeanne-Marie Joly that this initiative glory 
belonged. Grown courageous in her love, she dared 
even to compose a Mass in honor of the Heart of Jesus. 
This she did in French, for she knew no other language. 
Then she begged good M. Charolaise, confessor to the 
Community, to put it into Latin, after which it was sent 
to Bishop de Langres, with importunate entreaties that 
he would be pleased to authorize its public celebration 
in the convent. The kind and saintly prelate joyfully 
accorded the favor asked. 

So far so good. But even this could satisfy neither 
Sister Joly nor Mother de Saumaise nor the Community 
of Dijon. The bishop s approbation, they declared, 
must be followed by that of the Pope. A copy of the 
Mass was sent to the Superioress of the Visitation at 
Rome, with the request that it might be shown to Cardi 
nal Ciborio, and by him to the Sovereign Pontiff. They 
implored His Holiness, very humbly indeed, but very 
importunately, to be pleased to accord his authorization 
to the public celebration throughout the whole Church 
of the feast of the Sacred Heart. 

This was a bold stroke on the part of humble religious. 
What the prayers of our saint were during the negotia 
tions, none can say; but in her letters is discerned a 
species of impatience not at all usual to her. 1 "It 
seems to me that I shall die content if you obtain the 
authorization of the Mass in honor of the Adorable 
Heart of Jesus." 2 

Rome s answer was long in coming. Rome is never 
in a hurry. Rome is patient, because she is wise. Rome 
1 Letter LXXXIII. * Letter XCIII, 



260 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

is slow, because she is eternal. But when the answer 
did come, it pierced the heart of Margaret Mary as with 
a sword of sorrow. 1 Rome replied that the time had 
not yet come for an approbation that would extend to 
the universal Church. 

But on the kind representations of Cardinal Ciborio, 
the Mother Superioress of the Visitation at Rome added 
that there was no reason for discouragement; that it 
was necessary, first, to have the devotion publicly estab 
lished in the diocese with permission of the Ordinary; 
and, when it should have been in existence for some 
time, it would be more easy to obtain Rome s decision 
in its favor. 

Directed by counsel so wise, and sustained by Mar 
garet Mary, who most confidently affirmed that, in spite 
of contradiction, the Heart of Jesus would triumph, 
Mother de Saumaise, or rather Mother Desbarres, now 
Superioress at Dijon, addressed herself to Bishop de 
Langres, and supplicated him to be pleased to permit 
the public celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart, 
not only in the convent of Dijon, but in the whole dio 
cese. The authorization having been granted, prepara 
tions were begun at the convent for the solemn honoring 
of the Heart of Jesus. However, as the public cere 
mony could not take place until after Easter, to satisfy 
the impatience of the Sisters a little private feast was 
organized. A picture of the Sacred Heart was placed 
in the sanctuary of the religious, and M. Bouhier, the 
Superior of the Visitation, celebrated the Mass, Febru 
ary 4, 1689, on the first Friday of the month, in presence 
of the Community alone. This Mass was the first ever 
said in the Catholic Church in honor of the Heart of 
Jesus. We leave you to imagine the delight of Mother 
de Saumaise, Sister Joly, Mother Desbarres, and of all 
those chosen souls who, urged on by love so pure for 
the Heart of their Beloved, to reach the result just at- 
1 Letter LXXXVII. 



The Apostolate of the Sacred Heart begun. 261 

tained, had done so much, had struggled so hard. It 
was ajieavenly day like unto that on which the first 
adoration of the Sacred Heart took place in the little 
oratory of Paray. From that time the picture of the 
Sacred Heart was exposed every first Friday in the 
sanctuary of the religious, who passed almost the entire 
day kneeling before the Heart of their Divine Master. 
Nothing could drive them from it. 

The public fete took place after Easter. The Ducal 
Chapter of the Hply.Chapel went in procession to the 
church of the Visitation, and there with musical accom 
paniment sang the Mass of which we have spoken. 1 
The Blessed Sacrament was exposed all day in the midst 
of an unusual concourse, and shortly after a Confra 
ternity for the Perpetual Adoration of the Sacred Heart 
was established. The whole city wished to belong to 
it ; and in a few days were recorded " six large vol 
umes of names, among them some of the most illustrious 
of the province." The first hour of adoration was made 
by a venerable canon of the Holy Chapel, M. Benigne 
Joly, a man of extraordinary sanctity, the St. Vincent 
de Paul of Burgundy, the founder and promoter of all 
the great works of Dijon, whom the people had sur- 
named the Father of the Poor, and to whom the Church 
has decreed the title of Venerable. Public devotion to 
the Sacred Heart had been solemnly inaugurated. 

Thus, little by little, remaining hidden as far as she 
possibly could, without noise, without issuing from her 
obscurity, did Margaret Mary begin to enlist adorers 
for the Heart of her well-beloved Spouse. Public de 
votion succeeded private. Already, even without effort 
on the part of the humble Margaret, excepting that 
made by her desires and prayers, the new devotion had 
been knocking at the doors of the Vatican, and had 
awakened the attention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It was 

1 Annals of the Visitation, by M. 1 Abbe Colet (now Bishop of 
Lugon), p. 146. 



262 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

easy to foresee, whatever might be the prudence of the 
Church in things so delicate, that a little sooner or 
later devotion to the Heart of Jesus would be enthroned 
on every altar of Christendom. 

The facts thus far rehearsed were accomplished 
toward the middle of 1689. And now Blessed Margaret 
Mary had only a few months more to live. We might 
think her mission ended; but most unexpectedly her 
sinking to rest was lighted up by new celestial beams. 
On the brink of the tomb, she received a new revela 
tion, as brilliant as any of her youth. In it God showed 
her His great designs upon France, as well as another 
unexpected and admirable phase of the devotion to the 
Heart of Jesus. 



The Last Grand Revelation. 263 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE LAST GRAND REVELATION THE KING AND 
FRANCE. 

1689. 

" Vive le Christ, qui aime les Franks!" 

" Long live Christ, who loves the Franks! " Prologue of the Salic 
Law. 

" Non fecit talker omni nationi." 

" He hath not done in like manner to every nation." Ps. cxlvii. 20. 



revelation of the Sacred Heart is, beyond doubt, 
after that of the Incarnation and the Holy Eu 
charist, the most important of the revelations 
that have enlightened the Church. It is the most re 
splendent ray of light since Pentecost. Margaret Mary 
went so far as to declare that the Heart of Jesus would 
be in the Church as a " New Mediator;" * that is to say, 
as we can reach the Father only through the Divine Son 
become incarnate for us: in like manner we can hence 
forth reach the Son only by addressing ourselves to the 
infinite love of His Heart. This was Almighty God s 
first design. He had for end, as we have seen, to dissi 
pate the darkness, to melt the ice that had accumulated, 
and to revive in the Church the fire of immolation an-d 
sacrifice. 

But besides this first design, He had another relative 
to France, and in which we shall again discover that 
love of God for the Franks which for fifteen hundred 
years, notwithstanding our infidelities, has never aban 
doned us, and which is in a measure increased in propor 
tion even to our ingratitude. We might have been able 
to suspect something of this second design, seeing first 

1 Letter XLIII. 



264 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

that France was the chosen of all nations for the theatre 
of the manifestations of Infinite Love; and that it was 
to a French virgin, to a French religious Order, that 
God showed the high honor of being the confidants, the 
apostles, and the first adorers of His divine Heart. If 
we remark the nature of our wounds during the seven 
teenth and the eighteenth centuries, we shall not fail to 
see how sweetly, how delicately, how efficaciously this 
sublime devotion was adapted to their cure. Lastly, 
one might have been able to arrive at this conclusion, 
had he observed that it corresponds not less perfectly 
to the noble and sublime side of the French nature. 
Hence, one might have been able to foresee that, sooner 
or later, France would succumb to the charm of such a 
doctrine; and that, when all Christendom would have 
been subjected to the adoration of a Heart wounded by 
love, there would be between the French heart and that 
devotion so great an affinity that it would enthusiasti 
cally vow itself to its propagation; and that, once regen 
erated in its flames, it would regenerate the world. The 
distance, however, between the epoch of which we speak 
and that which was to realize the perfect beauty of God s 
designs over France was very, very great. 

There are some saints, even contemplatives, who 
acquaint themselves with the affairs of their times, and 
who take part in them with the double glory of divine 
and human light. Witness a St. Teresa, whose admira 
ble correspondence with Philip II. deserves to be better 
known, and which shows that great saint in an aspect 
altogether new. But our blessed Sister appears not in 
such a character. Born in an obscure village, hardly 
had she buried herself in an unknown cloister, in the 
midst of an unimportant town, than she is no more of 
this earth. She cares not for the politics of nations; she 
alludes not in her letters to what was then agitating her 
contemporaries. If Jansenism, in denying or depreci 
ating Infinite Love, began to straiten and dry up the 



The Last Grand Revelation. 265 

heart of man; if rationalism, the involuntary son of 
Descartes, in isolating mind from the other faculties, 
and particularly in separating the soul from the heart, 
continues and aggravates its detestable work; if sensism 
finishes by corrupting the heart; if ancient morals de 
cay; if Louis XIV. passed from the guilty love of Mile. 
de la Valliere to the shameful rule of Mme. de Monte- 
span, leading the dance that merrily whirled the French 
Empire to its ruin; if the heart, attacked by so many 
enemies at the same time, was on the point of perishing, 
would it not, at least, be elevated, purified, restored 
to health by contact with a pure heart? We repeat, it 
was not thus that things presented themselves to the 
eyes of Margaret Mary. She saw only her Well-beloved. 
She knew only that men do not love Him; that they 
forget Him and betray Him; that for the benefits He 
lavishes upon them He reaps only outrage. About 
their various degrees of sinfulness, about the difference 
between their offences of to-day and those offered Him 
in past ages, she cared little.. And, in truth, that was 
of little consequence. 

Once, however, she received a divine illumination on 
the disorders of the king and the court. The Superior 
ess said to her one day: " Go and take the king s place 
before the Blessed Sacrament." Margaret Mary obeyed. 
All the time that she remained there, she, angelic purity 
itself, was assailed by thoughts and imaginations that 
filled her with horror. This experience was several 
times renewed. Her Superioress was obliged, at last, 
to withdraw her from a ministry in which she experi 
enced torments to her so strange and new. 

On another occasion she remarked, in one of her let 
ters, that she perceived " a strange spirit of pride " prowl 
ing around the Visitation, a strange spirit of pride, 
which wished to substitute itself for that of humility 
and simplicity, the "foundation of the whole edifice." 1 
1 Letter XL 1 1 1. 



266 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

That " spirit of pride" was Jansenism. But the saint 
did not know its name. She had seen it, not in the 
light of history, but in that of God. She had beheld it 
in ecstasy. 

These are the only allusions in Margaret s writings 
that refer to contemporary events. Nothing, then, had 
prepared her for the grand revelation now about to be 
made to her. Her companions, her friends, her old and 
valued Superiors, were even less prepared for it than 
she. The first revelation related to the Church, and it 
gave rise to tempests. Those regarding France seem 
to have remained either unknown or ignored, for con 
temporaries make no mention of it. Mgr. Languet 
himself did not even suspect their existence: and how 
could he, since they have been known scarcely ten 
years? Like those pages whose invisible characters 
appear only when approached to fire, the flame of revo 
lutions was necessary to draw from the obscurity of 
their archives the writings that record those revelations, 
and to direct attention to them after they had appeared. 
And who knows whether or not we possess all the 
monuments of that national revelation, as glorious to 
France as the conversion of Clovis or the mission of 
Joan d Arc ? 

Behold, at least, what we do possess of it, namely, 
three letters addressed in 1689 to Mother de Saumaise; 
admirable letters, in some of which the reader may de 
tect a certain solemnity, and in others a certain im 
patience and fear of not being understood. They are 
like the last scene of the grand drama that so graphi 
cally depicts the manifestations of the Heart of Jesus. 

The first letter bears date February 23, 1689, and is 
written to Mother de Saumaise to thank her for what 
she had done toward promoting devotion to the Sacred 
Heart. In it we see broached, though in vague words, 
the social and national side of that sublime devotion. 
" Ah, what happiness for you," she says, " and for those 



The Last Grand Revelation. 267 

that contribute to it; for they draw upon themselves the 
friendship and eternal benedictions of this amiable 
Heart, and a powerful protection on our country. It will 
not be less effectual to turn away the vengeance and severity of 
the just anger of God for so many crimes committed against 
it." She adds: " But I hope the divine Heart will be 
come an inexhaustible source of mercy. It wishes only 
to establish its reign among us, in order to grant us 
more abundantly its precious graces of sanctification 
and salvation." 

To show how necessary it is that repentance should 
begin where sin had begun, she says: "One thing that 
consoles me much is that I hope, in exchange for the 
bitterness this divine Heart suffered in the palaces of 
the great during the ignominies of His Passion, this de 
votion will in time magnificently flourish therein. Pur 
sue, then, courageously what you have undertaken for 
His glory in the establishment of His reign. The 
Sacred Heart will reign in spite of Satan and all 
that may rise up to oppose it. But now is the time to 
work and suffer in silence, as He has done for our love." 1 

The second letter, though in a different sense, is much 
more important. It was written on coming out of ecs 
tasy, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart itself, Friday after 
the octave of the Blessed Sacrament, June 17, 1689. The 
Spirit of God had rested on the holy Sister,and displayed 
to her in prophetic light His designs of mercy on France. 

There is to the devotion of the Sacred Heart a private 
and a social side. Margaret Mary begins with the first. 

" In fine, my dear Mother," she writes, " are we not 
all consumed in the burning heat of His pure love ? It 
will reign, this amiable Heart, in spite of Satan, his 
imps and his agents. This word transports me with 
joy. But to be able to express to you the great graces 
and benedictions it will attract upon all that shall have 
procured it the most honor and glory is what I cannot 
do in the way that He has given me to understand it. 
1 Letter of February 23, 1689. 



268 Life of Ji leased Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

" He has made me see the devotion to His Sacred 
Heart as a beautiful tree, destined from all eternity to 
spring up and take root in the midst of our Institute, 
and to extend its branches into the houses that compose 
it, so that each may gather from it fruits most pleasing 
to her liking and taste. But He desires that the daugh 
ters of the Visitation should distribute abundantly to 
all that will eat of it the fruits of this sacred tree. By 
this means He desires to restore life to many; and, by 
withdrawing them from the way of perdition, and de 
stroying the empire of Satan in their heart, to estab 
lish in them that of His love." 

Behold the first design, the supernatural, the special 
side of devotion to the Sacred Heart, that which re 
gards souls at all times and in all places. Margaret 
Mary continues: "But He does not wish to stop here. 
He has still greater designs, which can be executed only 
by His almighty power." 

Which are those designs that the Blessed calls the 
greatest, and for which she invokes the All-powerful? 

" He desires, then, it seems to me, to enter with 
pomp and magnificence into the palaces of kings and 
princes, therein to be honored as much as He has been 
despised, humiliated, and outraged in His Passion. 
May He receive as much pleasure therein at seeing the 
great ones of the world abasing and humbling them 
selves before Him as He once felt bitterness at behold 
ing Himself annihilated at their feet!" 

The tone of these words convinces one that Margaret 
Mary, when uttering them, was in a sort of ecstasy. 
What follows leaves no room for doubt on the subject. 

" Here are," she continues, " the words that I heard 
on this point: MAKE KNOWN TO THE ELDEST SON OF MY 
HEART, SPEAKING OF OUR KING, 4 THAT AS HIS TEMPORAL 
BIRTH WAS OBTAINED THROUGH DEVOTION TO THE MERITS 

OF MY HOLY CHILDHOOD, IN THE SAME MANNER HE WILL 
OBTAIN HIS BIRTH OF GRACE AND ETERNAL GLORY BY THE 



The Last Grand Revelation. 269 

CONSECRATION THAT HE WILL MAKE OF HIMSELF TO MY 

ADORABLE HEART, which wishes to triumph over his 
heart, and by his mediation over those of the great 
ones of the world. IT WISHES TO REIGN IN HIS PALACE, 

TO BE PAINTED ON HIS STANDARDS AND ENGRAVEN ON HIS 
ARMS, IN ORDER TO RENDER HIM VICTORIOUS OVER ALL HIS 
ENEMIES. " 

Margaret Mary spoke only of the king, because, in 
the spirit of those times, the king and France w r ere one. 
The king personified all the souls of France living and 
breathing in one single soul. 

To comprehend Almighty God s request with regard 
to the standard, we must recall that, from the earliest 
ages, France had always had a sacred standard, one 
that was not borne to vulgar combats ; one that rested 
in the sanctuary of St. Denis under the shadow of 
the country s holy protectors. It was removed from 
its sacred shrine only when the monarch headed the 
army, when it was solemnly sought in the hour of 
greatest danger, or when it was to be carried afar to the 
holy wars. It symbolized the religious soul of France, 
and floated like a sacred prayer amid the nation s 
banners. It was a standard of this kind that God had 
given to Joan of Arc. He had prescribed its form and 
emblems, and co mm imitated to it the secret virtue that 
roused exhausted France to unhoped-for triumphs. To 
day, through the lips of the virgin of Paray, God asked 
of the Jdng of France something of the same kind, a 
sacred standard which was to symbolize an act of faith. 
It was to be borne side by side with the nation s flag, 
and, in a voice that could be distinctly heard above 
the proverbial bravado of her enemies, proclaim that 
France places her trust in the blessing of God. 

Mother de Saumaise was probably rather surprised 
by so serious a communication and one that tallied so 
little with what she knew of Margaret Mary s humility. 
She made no reply, -and our sweet and humble Mar- 



270 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

guerite became anxious at her silence. Were her letters 
lost? Would Mother de Saumaise, until then so cou 
rageous for the interests of the Heart of Jesus, hesitate 
before this new perspective ? Again she wrote to her, 
August 12, 1689: "I declare to you, my dear Mother, 
that your silence regarding the two long letters that I 
have had the honor to write you has given me a little 
pain. I know not to what to attribute it, except that 
perhaps I have set down my thoughts too freely and 
simply. I should perhaps have kept them concealed 
under an humble silence. You have only to tell me this, 
and I assure you that it will greatly gratify my inclina 
tion never to speak of these things, but to bury them in 
the secret of the Sacred Heart of my Divine Master. He 
is witness of the violence that I must do myself to speak 
of them. I should never have resolved to do so, had 
He not made knoivn to me that it is for the interest of His 
glory; and for that I should cheerfully sacrifice millions 
of lives, if I had them, through my great desire to make 
Him known, loved, and adored. But perhaps you 
have not received my letters, and that would be still more 
afflicting to me" l It was perhaps in the fear that these 
letters were lost, and that in the event of her death her 
secret might not descend with her into the tomb, that 
Margaret Mary reduced to writing the following. It 
was in the month of August, some days after the i2th, 
perhaps the 25th, the feast of St. Louis. It is less a 
letter than a sort of declaration, throughout which 
reign unaccountable solemnity and majesty : 

" Live J Jesus ! 

"August, 1689. 

" The Eternal Father, wishing to repair the bitter 
ness and agony that the Adorable Heart of His Divine 
Son endured in the palaces of earthly princes, amidst 
the humiliations and outrages of His Passion, wishes to 
establish His empire in the heart of our great monarch, 
1 Letter of August 12, 1689. 



The Last Grand Revelation. 271 

of whom He desires to make use in the execution of 
His design, which is to have an edifice erected in which 
shall be a picture of His divine Heart, to receive the conse 
cration and homage of the king and all the court. 

"Moreover, this divine Heart wishes to make itself 
the defender of the sacred person of the king, his pro 
tector against all his enemies. Therefore has it chosen 
him as its faithful friend, to have the Mass authorized 
by the Holy Apostolic See, and to obtain all the other 
privileges that ought to accompany devotion to this 
divine Heart. 

" It is by this divine Heart that God wishes to dis 
pense the treasures of His graces of sanctification and 
salvation, by bestowing His benediction on the king s 
undertakings, according a happy success to his arms, 
and making him triumph over the malice of his ene 
mies." 

A consecration of the nation to the Heart of Jesus, a 
national temple raised to the Heart of Jesus, an inscrip 
tion to the Heart of Jesus on the national standard 
this is what Our Lord asked of the blessed Sister. 
Under this condition He will render the king, that is, 
France, victorious over all her enemies, and will give 
her an eternal reign of honor and glory. 

Blessed Margaret Mary then goes on to recount the 
best means for realizing this plan ; the best means for 
reaching the ears of Louis XIV. She mentions Pere de 
la Chaise, the king s confessor, who at this time enjoyed 
great favor. "If the goodness of God, " says she, " in 
spires this great servant of the Divine Majesty to em 
ploy the power He has given him, he may rest assured 
that he has never done an action more useful to God s 
glory, more salutary to his own soul, nor for which he 
will be better recompensed. 

" It will be very difficult, on account of the great ob 
stacles Satan purposes putting in the way, as well as of 
all the other difficulties God will permit in order to 



272 Life of Blessed Marga ret Mary A lacoque. 

make His power seen. He can effect all that H& 
pleases, though He does not always do so, not wishing 
to do violence to man s will. For this we must pray much 
and get prayers. 

We may have remarked that in all these letters there 
breathes a deep and holy enthusiasm. The Heart of 
Jesus will reign in spite of its enemies ! All that 
God wishes from France that national consecration, 
that national temple, that inscription to the Heart of 
Jesus on a standard, all will be accomplished; but it 
will take time, and nothing less than the omnipotence of God 
is necessary. Fearful misfortunes will, moreover, take 
place in the mean time. 

We have not Mother de Saumaise s answer to this 
letter of August, 1689. She who had known how to 
reach Rome and arouse the thoughts of the Sovereign 
Pontiffs would neglect nothing to reach even Louis 
XIV. We know that she had recourse to the Superioress 
of the Visitation of Chaillot, the refuge of Mile, de la 
Fayette, where dwelt the queen of England, and which 
held, so to say, its door open to the court of Louis 
XIV. Might it happen that Pere de la Chaise would 
not dare to speak of it to the king? Might it happen 
that Louis XIV. s soul would not be sufficiently humble 
to comprehend the Christian grandeur of such a thought ? 
Be that as it may, those tender and magnanimous ad 
vances to the Heart of Jesus were not understood, and 
Margaret Mary s last admonitions were without avail, 
were lost in oblivion. They were, indeed, her last 
words, for we are at the close of 1689, and she was near- 
ing her death. 

1689 ! Involuntarily we pause at this date, for it 
evokes another, 1789 ! A century has just rolled by be 
tween the epoch in which an humble virgin, hidden in 
the depths of a cloister, pointed out to Louis XIV. the 
ark of salvation prepared for him by the goodness of 
God, and that other epoch in which arose the storm 



The Last Grand Revelation. 273 

that was to sweep away the monarchy, and with it all 
other monarchies. If told in the days of his splendor 
of the perils in store for France, of the necessity of seek 
ing a remedy, a shelter far above man, yea, even in the 
Adorable Heart of Jesus, Louis XIV. would have smiled 
incredulously. And yet this was true. From Louis 
XIV. France descended to Louis XV., from Louis XV. 
to Voltaire, from Voltaire to Robespierre and Marat ; 
that is to say, from pride to corruption, from corrup 
tion to impiety, and from both the one and the other 
to a hatred of God and man which was to bring about 
her universal punishment. 

Ah, this was only the beginning of our sorrows ! From 
1789 let us go to 1889. There we find a new century, 
one scarcely less sad than its predecessor ; one in which 
minds are darkened and hearts chilled ; one in which 
nothing is lasting ; one whose every cycle of fifteen 
years witnessed a storm that carried away a throne ; 
one in which man lives amidst constantly recurring 
political convulsions, in distrust of the present, in un 
certainty of the future. 

It was for such times that had been providentially 
prepared, and it was in the midst of such catastrophes, 
that we see making its way, painfully but surely, devo 
tion to that Heart which is meek and humble, which 
suited so well the age of Louis XIV.; which is pure, for 
it was of purity that Louis XV. s reign had so much 
need ; which was consumed by love and devotedness, 
qualities that would not have proved prejudicial to the 
age of such as Robespierre ; which raises sad hearts 
and comforts crushed souls ; which suits our own times 
and ail times. 



274 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER XV. 

MARGARET MARY S MISSION ENDED SHE IS CON 
SUMED IN THE FLAMES OF DIVINE LOVE HER HOLY 
DEATH. 

1690, 

" Sicut virgula fumi ex aromatibus thuris." 

"As a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices." Cant. iii. 6. 

m" ARGARET MARY had finished her mission. It 
now remained for her only to die ; or rather, 
she must die that her mission may be accom 
plished. Those admirable revelations of God, of which 
we know so much to-day, were known in the time of 
Margaret Mary to only a few, and only three or four 
knew them in detail. Many had only a vague notion 
of them, and, through delicacy and respect for Margaret 
Mary, no one dared speak of them. " I must die," said 
she, "for I am an obstacle to this sweet devotion." 1 
Again: " I shall assuredly die this year, in order not to 
prevent the great fruits that my Divine Saviour expects 
to reap from a book of devotion to the Sacred Heart of 
Jesus""* words that very much surprised Father Croi- 
set, who was working at this book, but who had not yet 
spoken of it to any one. 

When Margaret Mary finished this first work, she 
ended a second, one more personal but not less admir 
able : she had finished moulding her soul to the image 
of the Sacred Heart. In the fire of suffering and of 
voluntary sacrifice, what was human and imperfect in 
her had been gradually consumed; all that was left 
was purely celestial. As in all great fires, when every 
thing has been devoured, the flames sink and gradually 

1 Letter XCIX. *Contemp., p. 294. 



Margaret Marys Mission Ended. 275 

die out for want of fuel ; thus the sufferings, physical 
and mental, that for so many years had overwhelmed 
the saint one by one disappeared. Hence she con 
cluded that she was soon to die. "I shall certainly die 
this year," she exclaimed, " since I have nothing more 
to suffer." 

The sacrifice was, in reality, nearing its consummation. 
To the criticisms, the discussions, of which she had 
been the object, succeeded a sort of deep and discreet 
enthusiasm. Not only were the Sisters daily witnesses 
of her virtues ; not only" the little boarders, who clipped 
relics from her habit ; but priests and religious began 
to make journeys to Paray, to have the happiness of 
conversing with her. On leaving the parlor they were 
often heard to say : " We came to see the saint !" 
There was no one, not even the laborers in the convent, 
that did not watch for her at the recreation hour, and 
say to one another : " Let us try to see the saint of the 
house." 3 "The women who did the washing never 
called her anything else." 3 On feast-days when the 
grate was open, one could not prevent pious souls from 
crowding against the bars in order " to catch a glimpse 
of the saint." The aureola of holiness was definitively 
placed upon her brow ; and all contemplated with re 
spectful admiration the victim approaching the consum 
mation of her sacrifice on the altar. 

Among the many virtues that excited admiration at 
that last hour, what was most astonishing was her love 
for the hidden life, carried almost to passion. Ordi 
narily, when God calls a soul to a public mission, He 
puts into it a sort of chivalric, enthusiasm, a holy bold 
ness that renders it capable of any undertaking. Wit 
ness the pure and ardent St. Catharine of Siena, who, 
in spite of the ruling powers, led the Pope back to 
Rome after an exile of seventy years. But in Margaret 

1 Contemp., p. 294. * Process of 1715, p. 69. 

3 Vie et oeuvres, torn. i. p. 201. 



276 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Mary we see nothing of the kind. From her cradle to 
her tomb, she thought but of hiding herself ; she never 
found a solitude sufficiently retired. The more brilliant 
became her graces, the more her craving after forget- 
fulness, contempt, and humiliation increased. Her 
greatest desire, a desire that on her deathbed amounted 
to a torment, was to destroy all that she had ever 
written, thus to prevent any word from ever being 
spoken of her. " It would be very sweet to me, my 
dear Mother, if you would assure me, as your charity 
has promised, that you will burn everything without 
exception ; that nothing may ever be seen or known ; 
for my desire to remain buried in contempt and forget- 
fulness after death is not less -than that which I have 
had during life." " How grateful I should be to you, 
my good Mother, if you would do me the favor of burn 
ing all the writings that you have belonging to me." 2 
" I pray and implore you to burn all my writings, for I 
do not wish that there should survive so wicked a sin 
ner anything that could preserve her remembrance 
after death. I wish to be buried, annihilated in 
eternal oblivion." 

Her thirst for contempt and humiliation increased 
with her reputation. She wished to write no more 
letters, to appear no more in the parlor. " Tell me 
what I must do, for the number of letters written to me 
makes me suffer a most painful species of martyrdom, 
seeing that, though not wishing it, I have so deceived 
people. I think nothing can better undeceive them than 
my silence. I feel so strongly attracted to that course 
that, without extreme violence, I can no longer resist, 
whether for the parlor or for letters. If obedience did 
not constrain me, I should neither go to the one nor re 
ply to the other. The only consolation that I have in 
this is that it is to me a cross, and the cross is good at 
1 Letter IX. 2 Letter X. Letter XXXII. 



Margaret Marys Mission Ended. 277 

all times and in all places." " Alas ! if you knew how 
criminal my life is, and how little conformed to my 
words, you would see that like a miserable sinner who, 
without willing it, has deceived others, it is most just 
for me to desire to be buried in eternal contempt and 
oblivion." * 

She went to the parlor only when constrained by 
obedience, and whilst there kept herself so recollected, 
so abyssed in God, and so humble, that all gazed at her 
in admiration. "The great difficulty I have to speak," 
she said, " would prevent my ever doing so if obedience 
did not require it. It seems to me that, seeing myself 
so very wicked, contemptible, and despicable, I commit 
a great crime in speaking of myself. I am often aston 
ished that the earth does not open under my feet 
and swallow me, on account of my great sins. Ask, I 
conjure you, the Sacred Heart to grant me the grace to 
die with it on the cross, poor, unknown, despised, for 
gotten by all creatures, overwhelmed by all sorts of suf 
ferings ; but all according to His choice, His desire, not 



The last words show us a second characteristic of 
Margaret Mary s inclinations. We do not think that 
any creature has ever loved suffering more, nor plunged 
into it with greater enthusiasm. " To tell you in a word 
of the delights with which His goodness has, up to the 
present, favored me, I cannot better express it than by 
saying that in mind and in body I am on the cross. I 
cannot complain of it, nor do I desire any other consola 
tion than that of never having any in the world, and of 
living entirely hidden in Jesus Christ crucified, unknown 
in my sufferings. I wish no creature to have compassion 
on me, none to remember me, excepting to increase my 
torment." 

" I consider the hours that I have spent without suffer- 

Letter LXXX. 2 Letter XCVI. 

3 Letter LXXXV. 4 Letter I, 



278 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ing as lost. Indeed, I assure you, my good Mother, that 
I do not wish to live longer unless I may have the hap 
piness to suffer." 

The more Margaret s pain increased, the more her 
soul thrilled with joy. " As to myself, my dear Mother, 
alas! what can I say, excepting that it pleases the Lord 
to keep me in a state of continual suffering, my strength 
so exhausted that it is with extreme difficulty I carry 
my miserable body of sin. When I behold my sufferings, 
it seems to me that I feel the same joy that the most 
avaricious and ambitious do in seeing their treasures 
multiply." a 

Every instant we meet similar utterances: " I know of 
nothing that so sweetens the prolongation of life as con 
stant suffering in loving. Let us then suffer lovingly 
and uncomplainingly, esteeming as lost the moments 
passed without suffering." " Who can hinder us from 
being saints, since we have a heart to love and a body to 
suffer?" " Although I suffer as a criminal, it is that, 
however, which makes the prolongation of life endura 
ble ; for in it there can be found no pleasure, excepting 
that of loving God and suffering in His love." " We 
may page through her letters, peruse her Memoire, but 
in each we shall see that never was deeper passion ex 
pressed in cries more touching, never was it revealed in 
darts more penetrating. When we recall these words 
of Mother Greyfie: " The scourge had to be snatched 
from her hand ; for had we let her, she would have dis 
ciplined herself to blood," one involuntarily pauses in 
presence of one of the greatest examples of love of the 
Cross and passion for suffering that hagiology presents 
to the admiration of Christians, 

There is no need to say whence arose in her virtues so 
elevated above nature. They came from the only source 
that can produce them : a love of God of which she 

1 Letter XI. s Letter XXXIX. 3 Letter LXXXVJ, 

* Letter XCIL 5 Letter VIII, 



Margaret Marys Mission Ended. 279 

herself was not able to note the beginning ; which was 
awakened in her crib ; and which, carefully cultivated, 
increased with age, arrived at its culminating point, and 
there consumed her life. There were, she said, three 
tyrants installed in her heart, which left her no longer 
mistress of any movement : the first was love of con 
tempt ; the second, love of suffering; the third, and 
the most insatiable of all, love of Jesus Christ. " God 
has put into my soul three persecutors that cruelly tor 
ment me : the first, which produces the other two, is so 
great a desire of loving Him that it seems to me that 
whatever I see ought to be changed into flames of love." l 
Her great motto was : " Love, suffer through love, and 
be silent. This is the secret of the lovers of the Be 
loved." 2 

Writing to a friend a short time before her death, 
" Love," she said, " and do what you please, for he that 
has love has all. Do all through love, in love, and for 
love ; for it is love that gives value to everything. Love 
wishes not a divided heart. It calls for all or none. 
Give, then, love for love, and never forget Him whom 
love has put to death for you. You will love Him only 
inasmuch as you know how to suffer in silence and to 
prefer Him to creatures." : 

Under the empire of these three tyrants, where could 
there be room for the most imperceptible regard for 
creatures ? Although Margaret Mary had a very tender 
heart, its purity was charming. Her chastity was that 
of an angel. She herself has acknowledged that, except 
the day on which she was sent to take the place of 
Louis XIV. before the Blessed Sacrament, she never 
had even the shadow of a temptation. She had pre 
served her baptismal innocence. There was in her coun 
tenance something angelic, something ineffably pure ; 
though, at the same time, her eyes were so clear and her 
gaze so penetrating that one might have been em bar- 
Letter XII. ? Letter LXXXIV- 3 Letter LIU, 



280 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

rassed under her holy glance, had it not been tempered 
by extreme sweetness and modesty. She possessed the 
secret of reading hearts. By a word, a glance, a sweet 
and delicate allusion, she frequently revealed to her 
novices that she knew their interior dispositions. One 
look, for example, sufficed to show her that one of the 
Misses de Vichy-Chamron was not, like her sister, intend 
ed for the Visitation ; and the importunity of her family, 
no more than the persecution her refusal to receive her 
excited, could make Margaret Mary yield. To another 
who ardently desired to enter the Visitation she said 
that God did not call her there; that He wished her to 
go to the Ursulines, where she would do great good. 
This happened, indeed, to the surprise of the whole 
Community. On another occasion she was in the par 
lor with a cousin, very young and gay, recently received 
among the Dominicans. Another relative present 
wished to check the young monk s gayety. " Let him 
laugh," said Margaret Mary; u these are his last joys, for 
he has not much longer to live." The young man died 
suddenly a few days after. 

Margaret s vision extended beyond the most distant 
horizon. " Do you think, then," said she, smiling, to a 
lady who asked of her news of her deceased relatives, 
" that I know what passes in purgatory ?" But the facts 
disabused her words, and no one would have thought of 
putting such a question to her, had not some exact and 
striking revelations on several occasions declared her 
gift of prophecy. 

To it she joined the gift of miracles. It happened 
one day that a good domestic Sister, whilst splitting 
wood, wounded herself with the axe. Fearing that this 
accident might cause her to be sent away, she tried at 
first to conceal it. But the wound increased, and, like 
the poor w^oman of the Gospel, she said to herself : If 
I shall touch only her garment, I shall be healed? Folio w- 
1 St. Matt. ix. 21. 



Margaret Marys Mission Ended. 281 

ing out her good thought, she touched her wounded 
limb to the hem of Margaret s garment, and she was 
almost overcome with joy on perceiving the next morn 
ing no trace of her wound. 

Thus did Margaret rise day by day to the summit of 
sanctity. After having run through the elementary de 
grees so rapidly, she had arrived at that high pinnacle 
upon which the heart of man unites itself to the Heart of 
God, and has no longer any other than divine thoughts, 
desires, and aspirations. But she had now gone a step 
farther. She was elevated to that sublime state in 
which the weakness of man, as says the Holy Scripture, 
enters into the power of God, reigns like Him, sees into 
the future, penetrates the secrets of souls, and sovereign 
ly commands the elements. 

It must be added that, "although Margaret Mary 
shone brilliantly in all the virtues, yet her sanctity en 
tirely resolved itself into that love with which she so 
ardently burned for the Heart of Jesus, and that amaz 
ing zeal which led her to draw all hearts to render Him 
love for love " We can say that this devotion was the 
summary as well as the living and vivifying source of 
all her virtues. 

It was for the Sacred Heart that God had created 
her, and it was by the Sacred Heart that He had con 
ducted her to the summit of perfection. Thence came 
her faith, her humility, her virginal modesty, her an 
gelic purity ; and if, as a little one in the bosom of her 
family, in the streets of the village of Verosvres, people 
said, on seeing her pass, " She is an angel," it was 
because, though unknown to her, the Sacred Heart had 
already darted upon her a first ray of love. Thence, 
too, came her love for God and man, her apostolic 
spirit, her zeal, her spirit of prayer, and her long con 
templations from which she drew her grand, prophetic 
lights on the Church, on consciences, and on the most 
1 Decret de Beatification. 



282 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

hidden events. Many of those lights had some connec 
tion with the mission she had received. Thence also 
her frightful sufferings, the trials that assailed her, the 
doubts, the humiliations that God permitted, in order 
that the heart of the humble virgin might be broken 
and wounded like that of her celestial Spouse. Thence, 
in fine, came in the last years of her life that aureola of 
sanctity which attracted the eyes of all. In proportion 
as she ascended above the horizon, the Sacred Heart 
darted its rays upon her. He who was so soon going to 
inundate her with light allowed its reflection to shine 
upon her forehead. 

Heaven itself delighted to make it seen. One day, a 
good Sister, hearing holiness spoken of in the Com 
munity, said to herself : u Oh, how I should love to see a 
saint!" Instantly she heard a voice in the depths of 
her heart: " Look at Sister Margaret Mary!" She 
raised her eyes to Margaret s face glowing with celestial 
light from her recollection and union with God. 

What Heaven thus showed to an humble religious 
was not concealed from others. The last mists were 
slowly clearing away, and God s glory was appearing 
on the countenance of His servant. This could not 
last. It was a new martyrdom, more cruel than all 
others, and absolutely above her strength. She must 
of necessity die. It was necessary for her, and it was 
needful for the exaltation of the Heart of Jesus, whose 
grand revelations could no longer remain unknown. 

There is no doubt that, from the beginning of 1690, 
Sister Margaret Mary had of her approaching death the 
most vivid light. She spoke of it incessantly. Vainly 
did the Superioress, the Sisters, the physician smile on 
hearing her proclaim her end as so near. She sweetly 
and humbly maintained that it would be " this year." 
She told them how it would take place, and at a time 
in which the Community was least expecting it. She 
even named the two Sisters in whose arms she was to 



Margaret Marys Mission Ended. 283 

breathe her last sigh. " Dear Sister," said she to young 
Sister Rosalie Verchere, who had never assisted at a 
deathbed, and who very likely would be terrified at the 
sight, "you greatly fear witnessing a death. Ah! very 
well, depend upon it, I shall die in your arms and those 
of Sister Peronne-Rosalie de Farges." : 

July 22d, a little less than three months before her 
death, she heard more distinctly than ever the call of 
the Spouse. Although in good health, and only forty- 
three years old, she solicited with so much importunity 
the favor of making a forty days retreat to prepare her 
self for death, that her Superioress could not refuse her. 
She committed to paper some of the thoughts that then 
occupied her, and which permit us to contemplate for 
the last time the perfect beauty of her great soul. , 

" On the first day of my retreat my chief care was to 
think whence could come to me this great longing for 
death, since it is not usual for criminals, such as I am 
before God, to be so easy about appearing before their 
judge, and a judge the sanctity of whose justice pene 
trates even to the marrow of the bones. How, then 
my soul, canst thou feel so great joy at its approach? 
Thou thinkest only of ending thy exile, and thou art 
enraptured at the idea of soon going forth from thy 
prison. But, alas! take care that temporal joy, which 
perhaps proceeds only from the blindness of ignorance, 
plunge thee not into eternal sadness, and that from this 
mortal and perishable prison thou fallest not into those 
eternal dungeons where there will be no more room to 
hope. Let us, then, O my soul, leave this joy and these 
desires to die to holy and fervent souls for whom great 
rewards are prepared. For us whose works leave us 
nothing but chastisements to hope for, if God is not 
more good in our regard than just, let us think what 
will be our fate. Canst thou, my soul, endure for all 
eternity the absence of Him whose presence fills thee 
1 Ann6e Sainte, vol. jx. p. 214. 



284 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary A la cogue. 

with desires so ardent, and whose absence causes thee 
pains so cruel ? 

" My God, how difficult it is for me to render this 
account! I feel it impossible to nerve myself up to it, 
and, in my impotence, I know not to whom to address 
myself unless to my Adorable Master. I have remitted 
to Him all the points on which I shall be judged, 
namely, my Rules, Constitutions, and Directory. It is 
on them I shall be justified or condemned. After con 
fiding to Him all my interests, I felt admirable peace 
under His feet, where He held me for a long time 
abyssed, as it were, in my own nothingness, and there 
expecting that He would judge me, a miserable 
criminal." 

Later on, having measured "the immensity of her 
malice," she adds: "I am insolvent. Thou seest it well, 
my Divine Master. Put me in prison. I consent, 
provided it be in Thy Sacred Heart. There keep me 
fast captive, bound by the chains of Thy love, until I 
shall have paid Thee all that I owe Thee; and as I shall 
never be able to do that, I shall never come forth from 
that prison." 

We ask the most severe judges, could there be words 
more beautiful than these ? 

In this elevation of thought, this humility so true, 
this depth of sentiment, this peace and calm already 
heavenly, do they not recognize a great soul soaring to 
the loftiest heights? And when, overwhelmed with the 
remembrance of her sins, the blessed Sister asks, on the 
verge of the tomb, to be hidden in the Heart of Jesus, 
may we not find in that an indirect, though very high, 
proof of the perfect sincerity of her rare mind and 
noble heart ? 

In these sentiments Margaret Mary awaited death. 
Autumn came, the season in which the religious of the 
Visitation make their annual retreat. Now the eve of 
the day on which she was to begin hers, for that of the 



Her Holy Death. 285 

month of July did not dispense her from the one pre 
scribed by the Rule, she was taken with a slight increase 
of fever. A Sister having asked her whether she could 
enter her retreat, she replied: "Yes, but it will be into 
the great retreat." The physician, Dr. Billiet, was called. 
He venerated her as a saint, and used to say that her 
maladies proceeded from divine love. .He saw nothing 
serious in her indisposition, and declared she would not 
die of it. Margaret Mary, on the contrary, looking at 
him smilingly, said: " After all, it is less culpable for a 
secular than for a religious to tell a lie." 

After a short interval she asked for little Sister Marie- 
Nicole de la Faige des Claines, whom she called her St. 
Louis de Gonzaga, wishing, as she said, to have her by 
her when she died. " Come see me, my dear Sister," 
she said, as soon as she perceived her, "for I shall die 
of this illness. We shall not have a long time to be 
together." 1 

It was the eve of her death, though none suspected 
it. The physician reassured the Sisters. The counte 
nance of the invalid confirmed his words and dis 
pelled every trace of apprehension. However, toward 
evening little Sister des Claines, who never left her, 
observed that she suffered much, though from interior 
pains, the nature and cause of which it was difficult 
to divine. "You suffer," said she to her. "Oh, not so 
much," the saint earnestly replied, and relapsed into 
silence. A little later, toward the beginning of the night, 
she called the little Sister, and spoke to her of the ardent 
desire that consumed her of seeing God in heaven; add 
ing that she would nevertheless prefer to remain on 
earth till the last judgment if such were His good 
pleasure. 

The next day, October i6th, eve of her death, she 
implored from early morning to have holy Viaticum 
given her. As she was positively refused, her condition 
Annee Sainte, vol. ix. p. 729. 



286 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

inspiring no fears, she asked at least to be allowed to 
communicate, since she was still fasting. Her impor 
tunity was at last victorious. When she saw her Well- 
beloved entering, she opened wide her arms, and, with 
a vehemence that the witnesses declared themselves 
incapable of describing, thanked Him for coming to her. 
This was the last time she received her God on earth. 
She knew that it was to be so, and after the ceremony 
she told little Sister des Claines that she had com 
municated as Viaticum, because the end was near. 

All who approached her on this last day admired the 
extraordinary joy depicted on her face. She was in con 
tinual outbursts: "Ah! what happiness to love God! 
Let us love Him, let us love Him! But let it be per 
fectly!" For one instant only the thought of divine jus 
tice crossed her mind. She trembled, then humbly and 
ardently kissed her crucifix. " Mercy, my God! Mercy!" 
she exclaimed. But this trouble was only passing. The 
next moment she plunged into the Heart of Jesus, and 
on her brow appeared a radiant serenity that was never 
more to leave it. 

Once, after having said with great fervor: "What do 
I desire in heaven, and what can I wish on earth, except 
Thee alone, O my God!" she called her little infirma- 
rian to her, and inquired: "Shall I last much longer?" 
The latter answered that it was the doctor s opinion she 
would not die. Then Margaret Mary cried out: "Ah, 
Lord! when wilt Thou recall me from this place of 
exile ?" and asked Marie-Nicole to recite the Litanies of 
the Sacred Heart of Jesus and those of the Blessed Vir 
gin. After that she desired her assistants to invoke St. 
Joseph, St. Francis de Sales, and her guardian angel to 
come to her aid; and then relapsed into a silence of sev 
eral hours. 

In the evening a last thought of humility, of love for 
the hidden life, began to preoccupy her. She called Sis 
ter de Farges, and asked her to burn all that remained of 



Her Holy Death. 287 

her writings, and particularly the Memoire drawn up by 
order of Father Rollin. The Sister, seeing the peril, 
gently insinuated that it would be more perfect to remit 
herself into the hands of Superiors and abandon every 
thing to holy obedience. At these words the patient 
ceased to insist. As Sister de Farges showed distress 
at seeing Margaret Mary so convinced of her approach 
ing death, the saint repeated to her what she had sev 
eral times said, namely, that her death was necessary for 
the glory of the Heart of Jesus. 

Thus passed the day and the night of October i6th. 
On the morning of the lyth, whose eve she was not to see, 
being attacked by some slight fainting spells, ehe asked 
for holy Viaticum. The physician was called in haste. 
He again declared that there was nothing urgent in the 
case, and that she would not die. " You will see!" said 
the saint. When he left, she said to Sister de Farges, 
in allusion to the holy Viaticum just refused her: " Hap 
pily, I foresaw that. I doubted as to whether they would 
believe me so ill, and so I communicated yesterday for 
this intention." This last decision of the physician 
having reassured the Community, the Sisters dispersed 
to their various duties. Sister de Farges alone remained 
with Margaret Mary, who conversed with her upon the 
ineffable excess of God s love. Her words were few but 
inflamed. Towards seven in the evening, a slight con 
vulsion having passed over the invalid, Sister des Claines 
ran to call the Superioress. At this moment Sister de 
Farges re-entered, and, thinking it only a passing crisis, 
tried to stop her. " Let her go," said Margaret Mary, 
"it is time." 

The Superioress came, and wished to send for the 
doctor. " Mother," said Margaret Mary, " I no longer 
need any one but God alone, and to be buried in the 
Heart of Jesus." 

In an instant all the Sisters, notified that she was in 
her last agony, hurried in and prostrated in tears at the 



288 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

foot of her bed. Margaret Mary collected her remain 
ing strength to conjure them to love God, but without 
division, without reserve, and then warned them that 
it was time to give her Extreme Unction. 

The priest entered and began the ceremony, the saint 
being recollected and absorbed in prayer. Suddenly 
she raised herself, to present her members for the last 
unction. At this moment two Sisters, impelled solely 
by their affection for her, threw themselves forward to 
support her in their arms. These two Sisters who rose 
so spontaneously were, to the right, Sister Peronne-Rosa- 
lie Verchere and, to the left, Sister de Farges the same 
to whom^the saint had foretold that she would die in 
their arms. They had lost sight of her words at the 
moment. They remembered the prediction only after 
ward, and affirmed the incident under oath. At the 
anointing of the Fourth Sense, Margaret Mary sweetly 
expired in their arms, pronouncing the Holy Name of 
Jesus, October 17, 1690, at seven o clock in the even 
ing. She was aged forty-three years two months and 
four days. 

When the saint, consumed by seraphic ardor, was 
going to enjoy the sweet embraces of the Heart of 
Jesus, 1 an unknown beauty spread over her face; her 
features, so delicate and so pure, assumed a heavenly 
expression. The two young Sisters that supported her 
in their arms received such an electric current of divine 
love that one of them, Sister Verchere, scarcely twenty- 
four years old, made a vow the next day to do always 
what was most perfect; the other, Sister de Farges, 
vowed herself to that extraordinary life of sanctity which 
surnamed her a second Margaret Mary. The physician 
was kneeling at the foot of the bed. On recovering 
from his astonishment, he said that he was not surprised 
that Margaret Mary, having lived by love, had died of 
love. But one cry was heard throughout the house: 
1 Decret de Beatification. 



Her Holy Death. 289 

"The saint is dead!" And that cry having crossed the 
grate, in an instant the whole town was in the parlors 
asking to see her for the last time. When taken to the 
choir, two entire days were spent in touching her vir 
ginal remains with chaplets, medals, and crucifixes. The 
witnesses at the process of canonization knew not how 
to describe the eagerness of the crowd, the enthusiastic 
veneration, the touching recollection, and the sweet 
odor of sanctity exhaled from the virginal remains. 
The sacrifice was ended; but the incense was still smok 
ing and embalming the church. 

On the afternoon of the second day after her death, 
a number of the clergy met for the funeral rites. They 
buried the illustrious virgin under one of the choir 
flags, near the spot upon which she was kneeling when 
the Lord appeared to her. The first part of the grand 
drama of the Sacred Heart, the private part, was ended 1 , 
the second was aboui. to oegin. 



290 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

DEVOTION TO THE HEART OF JESUS BEGINS IN THE 
WORLD ANGER OF SOME, ENTHUSIASM OF OTHERS. 

* Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania ?" 
" Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things ?" 
Psalm ii. I, 

" Venient, et adorabunt." 

" They shall come and adore," Psalm Ixxxv. 9. 



saint is dead! There is no longer any obstacle 
to the glory of the Heart of Jesus! The pure 
alabaster vase is shattered, but its perfume 
spreads abroad! This the saint had predicted; this really 
happened. Hardly had the virgin closed her eyes, when 
the secrets hidden in the depths of the convents of Paray, 
Dijon, Mouhns, Semur, escaped. Father Croiset pub 
lished the "Abridged Life " of the saint; her incompar 
able Memoire saw the light; and, in a flash, the report of 
the sublime revelations of the Sacred Heart filled France 
ana tne whole Church. 

It seems that, even if such a revelation were not 
entnusiastically welcomed by all, it could nowhere meet 
with opposition; for what is more natural than devo 
tion to the Heart of Jesus? What more luminous has 
ever sprung from Christianity or from humanity than 
devotion to the Sacred Heart ? Everywhere and always 
has the heart of man been honored: why, then, be aston 
ished that we should adore the Heart of the Man-God ? 

The heart is the organ of love. Scarcely come into 
the world, even before putting his hand on his forehead 
to say, "I think," man puts his hand on his heart and 
says, " I love!" Is this God s inspiration? is it innate 



The Devotion begins in the World. 291 

impulse ? is it instinctive movement ? Whatever it may 
be, from it man has not varied for six thousand years. 
Take the greatest geniuses of antiquity: Moses, 1 Job, 8 
David, 3 Solomon, 4 Isaias; a take Homer, 6 Euripides, 7 
Theocrites, 8 Ovid, 8 Plautus: to them, as to St. Augus 
tine, Dante, Tasso, Shakespeare, Corneille, Bossuet, 
Racine; to all authors, sacred and profane, the heart is 
the seat of the strongest affections. It is expanded in 
happiness, it is contracted in sadness; it palpitates 
more quickly in enthusiasm; and sometimes, like those 
musical instruments that utter strains so brilliant under 
the passionate touch of some great artist, it breaks with 
love. 

There is nothing more divine in the natural order of 
things than the union of our soul and body. If our 



1 " Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo." Deut. vi. 5, 
x. 12, xi. 13, xxx. 2. " Cor meum diligit principes." Jud. v. 9. 

2 Job xxix. 13, xxxi. 9. 

3 " Defecit caro mea et cor meum. Deus cordis mei, et pars mea, 
Deus, in aeternum." Psalm Ixxii. 26. 

4 " Vulnerasti cor meum. soror mea, sponsa, in uno crine collitui." 
Cant. iv. 9. " Ego dormio, et cor meum vigilat." Cunt. v. 2. 
" Prsebe, fill mi, cor tuum mihi." Prov. xxiii. 26. 

5 Passim, in more than ten places. 

6 Horn., Iliad, 206; Odyssey. 

7 Eur., Hipp., 26. 

8 Theocr. xxix. 4, et Aristoph., Nab. 86. 

9 " Virginibus cordi, grataque forma sua est." Ov. Medic, fac., 32. 

" Molle, cupidineis nee inexpugnabile telis 
Cor mihi, quodque levis causa moveret, erat." 

Ov. Trist. , iv. 10, 65. 
10 " Corde amore inter se." 

Plaut. Capt., ii. 3, 60. 
" Meum mel, meum cor, mea colostra." 

Id., Paen. t i. 2, 154. 
" Nunc denum sum liber, meum corculum." 

Id. , Ca s. , iv. 4, 14. 

Expressions usual among all Latin authors : " Cordi essef "Corde 
habere" See Forcellini, Lexicon totius latinitatis. 



292 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

means of investigation were more perfect, we should see 
in the slightest turnings and windings of the brain the 
revelation of the most imperceptible thoughts of our 
mind. In like manner, if a delicate hand, the hand of an 
angel for example, were laid on our breast, we should 
discern the slightest emotion of love, whether good, 
elevated, pure and noble, indifferent or bad, that 
momentarily causes our heart to beat. 

Thus, in all times and under all skies, when an em 
blem of love is needed, men represent it by a heart. 
This remark does not apply so much, as we know, to 
antiquity; for then men loved with the senses, and 
these, alas! were what they made use of as symbols. 
Our words hold good for Christian times, because in 
them man loves with his heart. 

Antiquity, however, though almost submerged in the 
sensual, was not wholly ignorant of pure, ideal love; 
and the representation of a heart was not altogether 
unknown. But it is rarely found among the frivolous 
Greeks, excepting engraved as souvenirs and emblems 1 
on rings and medals. The Egyptians, on the contrary, 
those deep thinkers, deemed the heart everything in 
man s home; and in the divine scarabee, which the 
Egyptians wore upon their breast, there is a special 
mention of the heart, that grand power of man. 2 It 

1 Heart. This form is very ancient in the arts. We find it in the 
medals de Cardia in the peninsula of Thrace. It is a sign indicative of 
the name of the city, which signifies heart." Dictionnaire des beaux- 
arts, par Millin, membre de 1 Institut (Paris, 1838). " I recollect," 
writes the learned archaeologist of Autun, M.Bulliot, " to have formerly 
seen a ring (in the Jaubert collection at Moulins-Engilbert) bearing a 
heart with a Greek legend. The collection has been scattered, un 
fortunately, without hope of ever again being collected." See, also, a 
mirror in bronze, in M. Dobree s collection at Nantes, representing 
Eolus in the midst of the Alcyones, framed with a border of hearts. 

2 Thanks are due to the kindness of M. Fran9ois Lenormand. It is 
one of the new proofs that science furnishes of the long relations of the 
Jewish people with the Egyptians; for we know that in the Holy Scrip- 



77/<? Devotion begins in the World. 293 

was the same with the Romans, and even with the 
Etruscans, called by Cicero "the most religious of all 
nations." They hung around the neck of their chil 
dren jewels frequently in the form of a heart, to remind 
them, says a pagan author, that without the heart man 
is nothing. 1 And even in their infancy, as if fearing 
that the lesson might come too late, mothers fastened it 
to the curls of their first-born. 2 The Gauls, so good, so 
ardent, so tender, and, Tacitus says, so chaste, were not 
strangers to this great doctrine. We have reason to 
believe that their wives wore a heart suspended from 
the neck, 3 and that the husbands wore on their 

tures the heart is very frequently mentioned. Whoever wishes to meas 
ure the extent and truth of this remark needs only to open a concord 
ance at the word Cor. 

1 " Nonnulli credunt ingenuis pueris attributum, ut cordis figttram 
in bulla ante pectus annecterent, quam aspicientes. ita demum se homi 
nes cogitarent, si corde praestarent." Macrob. , Saturn., i. 6. "Others 
believed that to children of free condition the right was accorded to 
wear on the breast an ornament in the shape of a heart, that the sight 
of it might awaken the thought that man is truly a man only by reason 
of his heart." Tradnction de C. de Rosoy (Paris, Didot, 1827). Accord 
ing to others, " this ball in the shape of a heart that free children wore 
on the breast," etc. Traduct. nonvelle par Henri Decamps (Paris, 
Panckoucke, editor, 1845). "These balls," says Montfau$on, " were 
hollow in order to contain an amulet, according to Macrobe. He 
found numbers heart-shaped, others round." (Montfau9., Antiquite s 
explique es, t. iii.) The Montfaucon engravings give two balls on 
which the heart is engraved, and three that have the form of it (PL, 
XXXVII). Casale in his work De Veterum Christian. Ritibus (Rom., 
1644, p. 265) cites a marble statue of a young pagan who wore a heart 
on the gold ball. See Caylus also, " Recneil <f Antiquitds" t. iv. 
Balls in the formof the heart: PI. XLIX., No. i; PI. L., No. i; PI. 
XC., No. i. 

2 " They gave it to little children also, but fastened it on the fore 
head." Montfaugon, Antiqtdte s expliqnecs supptem. 46. 

3 See, at the Besangon museum, a heart found in a tomb Gallo- 
Roman d Eternoz (Doubs). This heart is formed of a sort of paste, 
surrounded by silver filigree very finely wrought, with a ring to suspend 
it from the neck. This magnificent Gallo-Roman jewel was found 
with bracelets, sWords, cutlasses, clasps, etc. See, also, at the museum 



2 94 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

finger a ring on which were engraven two hearts 
united. 1 

What was only a germ in antiquity soon expanded 
under the more genial warmth of the Gospel. The 
golden balls, filled with charms and worn by young 
pagans around the neck, were now refilled with relics 
of the saints and martyrs, the image of whom was some 
times engraven on them, and the balls themselves grad 
ually assumed the form of a heart. 2 This form or rep 
resentation of a heart became very popular. We find 
it engraven on the pedestals of sacred vessels, 3 and on 

of Saint-Germain-en Laye, in that portion called the Merovingian Hall, 
another heart like this, similar in material and size, but wrought with 
less taste and delicacy. See, in the Orleans museum, a little gold 
medal, round in form, whereon is engraven a heart. There is a little 
ring to it, which proves that it was worn from the neck. These three 
very precious jewels are Gallo-Roman ; but it is difficult to fix their 
precise epoch. See, in fine, a heart in bronze of great antiquity, found 
in the forest of Compiegne (Museum of Saint-Germain, Hall of Mars). 

1 Rings in gold or silver found at Veillois (Poitou) closed by two 
united hearts, changing in color and made of a transparent paste en 
graved. The Gallo-Roman rings are very numerous. We have seen 
three at the museum of Nantes, in the private collection of M. Paren- 
teau. Are these rings pagan or Christian? It is hard to say, the 
subjects engraven on the paste being but ill- preserved. 

2 From this usage sprang that of the Christians wearing on the breast 
Agnus Dei made from paschal wax in the form of a heart. See the 
great work of Fanciroli (La Bit Ha (Tetrode fanciulliromani, Romse,i732, 
p. 14). Museum of Cluny, jewels found in the Seine, quay of the gold 
smiths. See also nine specimens of hearts worn on the neck, twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries. Very often the heart is hollow, and in it is 
the statuette of a saint. 

3 The most remarkable vase from this point of view is what they call 
the Gourdon chalice (at the Museum of Medals in Paris). It is not a 
chalice, but very probably a holy-oil vase for Confirmation. On the 
base is found a Latin cross, the corners ornamented by four hearts, one 
in garnets, the others in turquoise. The little vase is itself ornamented 
with a garland of hearts. This precious memorial was found with 
some gold coin of the sixth century, from 518 to 527, under the reign 
of the Emperor Justin. 



The Devotion begins in the World. 295 

the crowns of kings. 1 They painted and embroidered 
it on the most precious textures of the Middle Ages; 2 
we are pleased to find it even in the games and relaxa 
tions of life; 3 above all, they engraved it on marriage- 
rings. 4 It was suspended from altars, and placed on 
tombs as a souvenir, a symbol of affection that survives 
death. 5 

Soon chivalry arose. As it had need of a mysterious 
sign to hide and, at the same time, reveal the face be 
neath the casque, heraldry was invented. And now the 
heart appeared sparkling under a thousand various 
forms in the armorial bearings of the oldest families of 
England, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, etc. It was 
a heart wounded or inflamed; again twe hearts united; 
or a heart crowned; a heart pierced with an arrow, etc., 

1 Not having seen the original and knowing only one design of it, we 
merely repeat the words of others when we say that on the celebrated 
iron crown at Monza, a crown of the Byzantine style ornamented with 
diamonds, there are four hearts set in the four corners. (Du Som- 
merard, Les Arts an Afoyen Age, Album, X. serie, plancheXIV. , No. 6.) 

2 See the rich silk stuffs preserved at Aix-la-Chapelle. On ore of 
these Byzantine stuffs, of solid green and red, we see swans facing each 
other, and on the border a series of hearts, also facing each oth^r. 
(Melanges d arche ologie, par les PP. Charles Cahier et Arthur Martfn. 
Paris, Poussielgue, 1851. Tome II., PL XII.) See, also, at Fonte- 
vrault, the statue of Isabella d Angouleme, wife of John Lackland, 
died in 1218. On the corsage of her robe are three hearts reversed. 
(Annales arc/ie ol., v. p. 281.) 

3 This is not the place to enter into a dissertation on the game of 
cards. We know its antiquity, and the part that the heart plays in it. 

4 See records of marriages at the close of the fourteenth and the 
fifteenth centuries. There are numbers of them, and the wedding-rings 
are always two hearts united together with an infinite variety of most 
delicate devices. 

5 See some of the primitive churches, the "Marble of St. Agnes" 
cemetery (V. Boldetti, Osservationi sttprc, i cimiteri, Roma, 1720, 
p. 373), where three hearts, perfectly formed, surround a little grated 
opening destined, according to all appearances, to let the eye penetrate 
into the interior of a tomb. Diction, des antiq. chrttiennes, par 
1 Abbe Martigny: Cceur. 



296 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ingenious revelation of the heart, sensitive, loving, 
wounded, or sad, that beat under the corselet of steel. 1 

But they were not to pause here. Homages grander, 
more striking, were to demonstrate man s idea of the 
human heart. These representations of the heart in 
gold, silver, or precious stones were, after all, very 
cold ! Why is it that when a great man, a hero, a bene 
factor, a saint dies, his fellow-men respectfully open 
his breast? Why do they draw out his heart, that 
sacred relic of love, and, embalming it in the per 
fumes of gratitude, preserve it as a souvenir ? This is 
done everywhere. Everywhere is preserved man s heart ; 
it is even borne in triumphal procession ; it is given an 

1 In France, for example, the families of : 

LEMIN DE BRANSAC three silver hearts, engraved two at the 

head, the other at the point, of the shield. 
Du GARREAU (in Limousin and in Perigord) field of sky-blue 

with a stripe of gold, at the base a heart of the same, having 

a cross also of gold. 
DE LESTANG (in Berri) two hearts opposite to the base of the 

shield. 
D ARNOUfcT a stripe of red on a field of silver, with three hearts 

placed two at the base, the other at the apex, of the shield. 
DE CUERS DK GOZOLIN azure on a field of gold, wkh three 

hearts of the same, two at the base, and the third at the apex, 

of the shield. 
DE CURSAI on a field of silver a fiery-red heart, supported by 

cross-pieces, also red. 
LEMERCIER DE MAISONCELLE azure on a field of silver, with two 

golden stars at the base of the shield and a heart of gold at 

the apex. 
In England, see the families of: 

CATHCART a hand holding a crowned heart above the coat-of- 

arms, in the centre of which is a heart uncrowned. 
COCKBURN a heart in the centre of the coat-of-arms. 
DOUGLAS two hearts crowned. 
JOHNSTONE a single heart crowned. 
MORTON two heart* crowned. 
QUEENSHERRY two hearts crowned. 
TORPHICHEN four hearts crowned. 



The Devotion begins in the World. 297 

exceptional burial ; and there is not one of our cathe 
drals that does not contain some example touching the 
sublime veneration of man for the heart of man. 1 

Soon a still more delicate thought was evoked. On the 
brink of the tomb, when searching for what was most 
precious to bequeath the tenderly loved, disdaining 
gold and silver, fit only to reward inferior services, man 
conceived the idea of leaving his heart to his dearest 
ones. This under a symbolical form was the legacy of 
that love with which it had been consumed. Cremation 
had deprived the ancients of this touching and sublime 
legacy. In Christian times it became universal. Kings, 
queens, princes, bishops, even the saints made such do 
nations. When wandering through our ancient basilicas 
and abbeys, Saint-Denis for example, or Fontevrault, 
we meet at every step urns of marble, alabaster, or 
bronze, containing the heart of a king, a queen, or a 
prince. Though possessing immense lands, they de 
clared that what they could leave most precious to those 
whom they loved was their heart. 2 

1 See, among others, at Saint-Denis : An urn of white marble, 
sculptured by John Goujon, containing in the days of yore the heart of 
Francis I. A spiral column surmounted by a bronze urn, on which 
three cupids support a heart: in the urn was once inclosed the heart 
of Henry III. Another sculptured column, surmounted by an urn, 
once contained the heart of Francis II. See, at Nantes, the magnifi 
cent jewel set in gold, in which was inclosed the heart of Queen Anne 
of Brittany, wife of King Louis XII., etc. 

2 For example, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, who, dying (1190), be 
queathed his body to Fontevrault, his heart to Rotten. In like manner, 
John Lackland s heart was deposited at Fontevrault (1216) in a golden 
cup near the tomb of Henry II., King of England, deceased in 1189. 
At Fontevrault the tomb of Isabella d Angouleme (1218) contained a 
golden vase inclosing the heart of King Henry III., her son. Again, 
Henry IV. gave the Jesuits his castle of La Fleche in which to establish 
a college, and there he wished his heart to be preserved. (Duruy, Hist, 
de France, ch. li. 5.) St. Chantal gave her heart to the Visitation of 
Paris, etc. , etc. There are thousands of examples of this custom. 

[Mgr. Bougaud s own heart now rests in the Sacred Heart chapel of 
the Visitation Convent at Orleans. It is sealed in a leaden box inclosed 



298 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

This is the history of humanity. Right or wrong, for 
six thousand years, it has been thought that, if there 
is anything of value on this poor earth, it is love ; and 
that the sanctuary of love, its tabernacle, its consecrated 
ciborium, is the heart. It has despised all else. Love 
alone was esteemed, love alone was borne in triumph. 
Not the dust of man s sword, nor of his sceptre, nor 
even that of his genius has been honored ; but on the 
whole face of the globe, has been carried in triumph only 
the dust of his heart. Moreover, let that heart have been 
a beneficent one, noble, elevated, pure, a heart that beat 
for others instead of itself, and with more reason are 
exceptional honors paid it. Is it, then, astonishing that 
when a heart that surpassed all hearts appeared, unpre 
cedented enthusiasm was felt for it ? Had it been only 
the heart of a man, it might have been carried in triumph: 
but it was the Heart of the Man-God ! Homage, there 
fore, could not suffice ; adoration was necessary. 

Here we are shocked by one of those problems of 
which there are millions in the history of our poor 
nature. As long as there was question of loving, honor 
ing, exalting mans heart, not one objection was raised ; 
but as soon as there was question of the Heart of Jesus, 
it became the object of outrageous abuse. 

in a casket cf oak. The following is the inscription at the base of the 
monument : 

"Here rests in the peace of the Lord 

The heart of the most Reverend and Illustrious 

L. V. E. Bougaud, 

Bishop of Laval, 

Former Vicar-General of the Diocese of Orleans, 

Who deserved well 

Of the Visitation of Holy Mary 

For writing in an able manner 

The Life of St. J. F. de Chantal 

And that of Blessed Margaret Mary, 

And who was, by his numerous Writings 

And Discourses, the Signal Defender of the Church." 

^-Translators Note,~\ 



The Devotion begins in the World. 299 

Strange ! The grandest and most legitimate ideas, 
the most touching of all that religion consecrates, 
are scornfully rejected. What is there more beautiful, 
more manifest to the eyes of the heart than the unity of 
the human species, the brotherhood of all men and all 
peoples? Suppose that the Bible taught the contrary, 
with what indignation, with what efforts of science 
would men affirm the fact that we are all brethren ! 
But no ; because the Bible thus declares, they expend 
the treasures of mind, wit, and learning to prove, first, 
that we have nothing in common with the negro race ; 
and secondly, by way of retaliation, that we are the 
children of lower animals, of apes and baboons. A 
similar thing happened when there was question of the 
Heart of Jesus. Hardly had this sw-eet and august sign 
begun to rise above the world than commenced uni 
versal revolt and conspiracy. Jansenists, rationalists, 
wits, scholars, priests, and, alas! even bishops, seized the 
pen, and left untried no species of raillery and contempt 
in their effort to destroy tender and deep devotion to 
the Sacred Heart. 

One called it a new devotion. As if the Church inter 
dicted, or ever could interdict, new devotions ! A devo 
tion is not a dogma ; it is an act of love. To ask the 
Church not to have new devotions is to ask a glowing 
furnace not to dart its flames heavenward ; it is to ask 
a heart that loves to hide within itself every manifesta 
tion of tenderness, never to grow young again by a new 
expression of the unchangeable love that forms the 
depths of its soul. It is over eighteen hundred years 
since Jesus Christ died on the cross, over eighteen hun 
dred years since the Church at His feet adored and 
loved Him ; but imagine not that at all times that love 
and adoration were testified in the same way. There 
were periods in which she kissed in preference- His 
sacred feet wearied in seeking us ; and others in which 
His brow crowned with thorns, His face furrowed with 



300 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

tears, most deeply touched her soul. To-day we rise to 
His breast, we press our lips to His Sacred Heart in 
eager desire to warm and inflame our own cold heart. 
Strange people that ye are, ye that attack the Church ! 
If we Catholics do not advance, if we intrench ourselves 
in our immutable doctrines, ye say that we are mum 
mies. And if we do advance, if we display the love that 
is in us, ye say that we are inventors of novelties. Ye 
ignore and blaspheme the double, the sublime character 
of the Church, the immutability of faith, and the prog 
ress of love! 

Others called the devotion absurd. What ! absurd to 
honor a father s heart ! To love, to venerate, to pre 
serve with filial piety a mother s heart ! So incensed 
were some minds at seeing the Heart of the Man-God 
receiving Christian adoration that they began forthwith 
to deny that man has a heart. In order to be able to 
combat this noble organ even in the breast of the Man- 
God, they preferred giving the brutal He to the manifest 
consent of mankind which has always made the heart 
the seat of the affections. They called man s heart a 
little morsel of Jlesh a muscle ; 2 and in the picture of the 
Sacred Heart they only saw a great shining lircr? clearly 
evidencing by their fury that a decisive stroke was 
hurled against it. 

Others, again, they of the fastidious class, found the 
devotion too material. " Adore matter ! Adore flesh !" 
they said. "What a degradation !" As if it had just 
entered man s mind that the material Heart of Jesus 
Christ was to be separated from the sacred fire of His 
love to which we offer our homage and veneration ! 
As if the Heart of Jesus Christ were more material than 
were His feet and His hands, which we kiss ; His crown 
of thorns, which we carry in triumph ; His cross of 
wood, which He stained with His blood and before 

1 Lettre pastorale de Scipien Ricci, veque de Pistoie. 

8 Histoire des sectes religieuses, t. ii. p. 246. 3 Ibid., p. 269. 



The Devotion begins in the World. 301 

which, for that reason, we cast ourselves on our knees ! 
No ; what they refused to adore was not flesh ! The 
time was approaching in which these vainly scrupulous 
souls would adore flesh, living and defiled, in the pro 
faned sanctuary of Notre Dame. What frightened 
them was the suffering, the wounded flesh of their Re 
deemer! They pretended that to adore it was degrada 
tion ; though at heart they knew well that the adora 
tion of the wounded flesh of Jesus Christ is the condem 
nation of concupiscence in our own flesh, the apotheosis 
of pure love, the glorification of sacrifice ; that is to 
say, honor rendered to what is greatest, noblest, most 
intellectual, and most divine in the heart. 

Happily, there is humanity higher than man. Higher 
than the narrow, violent, superficial portion that van 
ishes like the waves of passion, like the storms of wrath, 
there is a calm, tranquil humanity that listens to false 
reasoning with a smile, and then passes on. 

This was what happened in the present case. Corre 
sponding to the deepest wants of the human soul, sweetly 
arid efficaciously responding to the sad wounds of this 
epoch, the devotion to the Heart of Jesus began its tri 
umphal march from the day of Blessed Margaret Mary s 
death. The Visitation Order gave the signal. Paray, 
Dijon, Semur, had already set up the banner of the Sacred 
Heart. The following years saw all the other convents 
rallying around it: in 1690, Marseilles, Montbrison, 
Nantes; in 1691, Autun, the first convent of Lyons, that 
of Fribourg, and the second of Rennes ; in 1692, Besan- 
gon, Blois, Loudun ; in 1693, Aix, Bordeaux, Bourges, 
Farcalquier, Langres, the second of Lyons, Nevers, 
Valence, Toulouse ; in 1694, Dieppe, Thonon, the second 
of Marseilles, Salins ; in 1695, Chaillot, Perigueux, 
Pont-a-Mousson, Montargis ; in 1696, Nancy, Aurillac, 
Romans, Naples ; in 1697, the first of Rouen, Rumilly, 
Arone, Caen, Condrieux ; in 1698, the second of Paris, 
Orleans, Mamers, Vannes ; 1699, Montferrand ; in 1700, 



302 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Troyes, Metz, Saint-Etienne, and shortly after Amiens, 
Auxerre, etc. The seventeenth century is nearly ended. 
Only ten years had passed since Margaret Mary died, 
and already the Visitation houses, one after another, 
had risen to consecrate themselves to the Heart of Jesus. 
We would be interminable did we undertake to relate 
all the touching, beautiful, and sublime facts, all the 
charming episodes that marked the triumphal march of 
the devotion of the love of Jesus throughout the Visita 
tion. Its convents drew from it strength to remain fer 
vent amid the defections of the eighteenth century, and 
tenderly loving in face of the cold sophisms of Jansen 
ism. This sacred fire, so carefully guarded by the 
Visitation, though sad were the times, shone through 
her grates. Each Community became the centre of a 
Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, by means of which 
the whole neighboring country grew warm again. To 
cite only one fact : in 1698, eight years after Margaret 
Mary s death, the Confraternity of Dijon numbered 
from twelve to thirteen thousand associates, not only 
in Burgundy, France, but in Spain, England, and 
Germany. 

Such a movement would not have been possible if the 
French bishops, the Superiors of the Visitation con 
vents, had not approved it. But we find them every 
where blessing chapels, erecting Confraternities, and 
presiding at those first feasts of the Heart of Jesus, so 
private, so recollected, and so sweet, in the interior of 
the convents. 

Soon, however, they opened to it their cathedrals. In 
1688, Charles de Brienne, Bishop of Coutances, estab 
lished in his diocese the feast of the Sacred Heart of 
Jesus. In 1694, Antoine Pierre de Grammont, Arch* 
bishop of Besangon, ordered that it should be celebrated 
in his metropolitan see. In 1719, Francois Villeroy, 
Archbishop of Lyons, published an admirable pastoral in 
favor of devotion to the Sacred Heart, which he alsq 



The Devotion begins in the World. 303 

established himself in all the churches of his diocese. 
Every year saw similar things. But though triumphant, 
the march of the devotion of love was still slow and 
timid, until, all at once, in 1720, thirty years after the 
death of Margaret Mary, an extraordinary fact occurred 
to hurry it on. 

The pestilence from the East burst upon the city of 
Marseilles, and in a short time reaped a harvest of forty 
thousand souls. The silence of death fell on the streets 
and public places encumbered by dead bodies. In vain 
had the survivors recourse to penance and prayer. 
Nothing could disarm the divine anger. At last the 
saintly prelate of Marseilles, Mgr. de Belzunce, received 
a heavenly inspiration. It came to him from a religious 
of the Visitation, Sister Anne-Madeleine Remusat, to 
whom he frequently had recourse to strengthen his 
heart and rouse his courage, and who never ceased to 
exhort him to place his hope in the Adorable Heart of 
Jesus. One day, therefore, November 2, 1720, like 
another Borromeo, the prelate, barefooted, a cord around 
his neck, a cross in his arms, left his palace accompanied 
by all his religious and priests, and many other holy 
souls. When the procession reached the principal 
square of Marseilles the bishop knelt, and, amid silence 
broken only by the sobs and groans of the assembly, 
solemnly consecrated his diocese to the Heart of Jesus. 
From that moment, as if by enchantment, the pestilence 
ceased : not another interment took place at Marseilles. 

The municipal body, ho.wever, had taken no part in 
the public demonstration ; two years later, therefore, 
the plague reappeared. Repenting their fault, the 
authorities vowed to go yearly, on the feast of the 
Sacred Heart, to communicate in the Church of the 
Visitation, there offer a white wax taper ornamented 
with the city escutcheon, and take part on that same 
day in a public procession. As soon as the proceedings 
were drawn up and signed by all the officials, the scourge 



304 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ceased with the same suddenness as on the first occasion. 
It is from this event that the city of Marseilles dates 
devotion to the Sacred Heart, so productive of good 
during the horrors of the Revolution, and which in our 
own day has played so brilliant a part in the sanctifica- 
tion of souls. 

Such events could not overrun a country so Christian 
as was Provence at that time without shedding their 
radiance everywhere. After the example of the illus 
trious Henry de Belzunce, the Archbishops of Aix, 
Aries, Avignon, as well as the bishops of Toulon and 
Carpentras, hastened to issue orders for the establish 
ment of the feast in their respective dioceses. Soon 
the whole south proclaimed devotion to the Sacred 
Heart. 

Shortly after, and under circumstances most favorable, 
the long-expected history of Blessed Margaret Mary 
appeared. Its author was Mgr. Languet, formerly 
vicar-general of Autun, Superior of the Visitation of 
Paray, and at that moment Archbishop of Sens. No 
one was more capable of knowing Margaret Mary than 
he, for he had been in daily communication with herself, 
her contemporaries, and her disciples. Unfortunately, 
the gloomy spirit of the eighteenth century had slightly 
impressed upon him its mark ; and besides, the violent 
attacks of the rationalists and the impious had rather 
hampered his piety. Instead of narrating he discusses. 
He tries to explain what he should have enthusiastically 
contemplated. The eighteenth century was not made 
to understand such a figure, nor was he the man to 
paint it ; therefore his work, cold and incomplete, timid 
and indiscreet, added fury to the tempest that it should 
have stilled. 

They who have had occasion to page through the 
writings of the eighteenth century, pamphlets, journals, 
light poetry, ecclesiastical leaves, all so infected with 
venom, may form some idea of the rage, contempt, and 



The Devotion begins in the World. 305 

raillery roused against Margaret Mary and the Sacred 
Heart. We have had in our hands at Dijon a collection 
of manuscripts in which are found the verses of Piron, 
the Christmas carols, satirical ballads of la Monnaye, 
letters of President Bouhier, and sonnets from the 
various Burgundian wits of the eighteenth century. 
One cannot conceive the insipidity, the sottish pleas 
antry roused by the name of Alacoque, the surname of 
Margaret Mary, the stupid play upon words connected 
with devotion to the Sacred Heart, the sarcasm launched 
against Mgr. Languet. But these times have long 
passed. France has indeed still many wounds ; but more 
than a hundred years separate us from such an epoch. 
Before long the society of the nineteenth century will 
appear to be bound and strongly welded to the great 
society of the seventeenth, of whom she is the legiti 
mate daughter. The miserable interval between them 
will no longer be reckoned. It is like a lovely morn 
and a balmy evening forming one beautiful summer 
day, though its noon has been darkened by a storm 
whose last traces may be floating far off on the edge of 
the horizon. 

Whilst the wits spent their arrows against devotion to 
the Sacred Heart, it continued its march, exciting anger 
and arousing enthusiasm, wounding and captivating the 
hearts of men. It had already left France, and spread 
along the shores of the Mediterranean. In 1733 it was 
established at Constantinople ; in 1740, at Aleppo and 
Damascus, in Lebanon. The Life of Blessed Margaret 
Mary, translated into Arabic and published at Antora, 
a city of Anti-Lebanon, spread through the vast plains 
of Ccele-Syria, from the great Hermon to the Baltic. 
It even extended further. After 1709, we find two Con 
fraternities of the Sacred Heart at Macao, another at 
Pekin ; and in 1743 a third was erected in the very 
heart of the imperial palace. 

Rome is, however, always slow to sanction novelties 



306 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

in devotion. In 1726 Frederick Augustus, King of 
Poland, vainly addressed a most pressing supplication 
to Benedict XIII.; in vain had the French bishops 
in 1728 conjured the See of St. Peter to recognize 
the feast of the Sacred Heart; in vain did the King 
of Spain, Philip V., and shortly after the prelates of 
Poland, formulate a similar request. Rome would not 
yield. The Congregation of Rites even issued a decree, 
by which, July 30, 1729, on the decision of him who 
was, some time after, to become Benedict XIV., it abso 
lutely refused to authorize the demand. And lo, the 
Jansenists clapped their hands with joy! What was 
there, however, astonishing in the hesitancy of the Holy 
See? There was question of a private revelation not 
yet canonically examined; of a religious who died, it is 
true, in the odor of sanctity, whose process of canoniza 
tion, begun in 1715, was still under the official seals; of 
a devotion, in fine, that touched the most profound mys 
teries of Christianity, but of which the first theologians 
or historians had spoken in so inexact a way that one 
of the chief and most pious works respecting it had 
been put on the Index. The devotion, on the other 
hand, bordered so closely upon the physiological ques 
tion of the functions of the heart in the human organ 
ism that, as the Jansenists said, they could not decide 
the one without the other. The question was, then, to 
be considered more closely before giving a definite solu 
tion. Instead of censuring the Holy See, its prudence 
makes us admire it. 

Thirty-six years more, 1729-1765, were employed in 
letting the question mature in the minds of theolo 
gians, in the disputations of the schools, in the hearts 
of Christians, in the intuitions of saints, until one 
appeared whom Providence had chosen solemnly to 
inaugurate the devotion to the Sacred Heart through 
out the Church. Scarcely was the illustrious Clement 
XIII. seated on the chair of St. Peter than, prompted 



The Devotion begins in the World. 307 

thereto by the ever-increasing intrigues of the Jansen- 
ists and the incessant solicitations of the prelates, par 
ticularly those of Poland, the question was again agi 
tated, and decided amidst the applause of the Church. 
A decree, dated 1765, granted to the prelates of Poland 
and the Roman Archconfraternity permission to cele 
brate with Mass and proper Office the feast of the 
Sacred Heart of Jesus. Liberty was left to other prel 
ates to solicit the same for their respective dioceses. 
Hardly had this decree been issued, when the clergy 
assembled at Paris hastened, at the importunity of the 
pious Queen Marie Leczinska, to subscribe to it; and it 
was decided that the devotion to the Heart of Jesus 
should be established in all the dioceses of France. 
Thus did God, on the eve of their great misfortunes, 
reunite Poland and France, that they might work 
together at the spread of devotion to the Heart of Jesus 
in thi Church. We may believe that this Heart, the 
most faithful of all hearts, will one day return all that 
it has received. 

Thus stood affairs in 1765. Less than a century after 
Margaret Mary s death, the first part of her mission was 
realized the devotion to the Heart of Jesus was officially 
established in the Church. And if the solemn feast 
demanded by the Lord for the Friday after the octave 
of the Blessed Sacrament is not yet of obligation, it is 
at least authorized by the Sovereign Pontiff. The rest 
is only a matter of time. 

As to the second part of our saint s mission, that 
which regarded France and the king, it was in a less 
advanced state. Louis XIV. died too blinded by his pas 
sions and, when they were chilled by age, too enervated 
by his pride, to have any suspicion of the abyss into 
which his errors and disorders were about to precipitate 
France. Louis XV., who succeeded him, saw the danger, 
for from year to year the gulf widened; but the sight 
affected him little. The monarchy would last as long 



308 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

as he, and the future mattered not to this voluptuous 
egotist. For a greater reason, neither the one nor the 
other dreamed of the supernatural remedy God had 
made known to Margaret Mary. We may even believe, 
seeing how little they interested themselves in it, that 
the second revelation never reached them. 

However, when looking at it more closely, we are per 
suaded that the mission confided by Margaret Mary to 
Mother de Saumaise had been fulfilled, and that Louis 

XIV. knew exactly what God desired of him. Sad in 
deed as might be that court of Versailles, it was full of 
the Sacred Heart. It was that Heart that there consoled 
the afflicted queens, the deserted wives, souls agitated 
by sad presentiments. We even think we can perceive 
in those more nearly related to Louis XIV. and Louis 

XV. certain delicate, indefinable efforts to supply for 
what those monarchs should have done and which they 
did not do. If, for example, the first convent of the 
Visitation at Paris undertook to build, in 1694, on the 
Mansart plan, a handsome chapel to the Heart of Jesus, 
it was the Queen of England, Henrietta Maria of 
France, aunt of Louis XIV., who laid the first stone, 
and who wished to be inscribed first on the register of 
the Confraternity. 1 A little after, the third convent of 
Paris, that of Chaiilot, decided to establish, every first 
Friday of the month, a solemn Benediction with an Act 
of Reparation to the Heart of Jesus. The Duchess 
of Orleans was frequently perceived assisting at it. 
Kneeling on the ground among the crowd, she was seen 
trying to hide herself, her tears, and her painful anxiety 
of heart. 2 At the same time, the grand personages of 
the court pressed around Sister Marie-Eleonore, Princess 
of Lorraine, a poor and humble religious of the Visita 
tion of Paris, supplicating her to inscribe them on the 

1 Circular of the second convent of Paris, May 25, 1698. 

2 Circular of the convent of Chaiilot, November 26, 1739. 



The Devotion begins in the World. 309 

register of the Confraternity of the Sacret Heart. 1 A lit 
tle later, at the court of Louis XV., the devotion increased 
still more. By the side of those salons in which were 
enthroned the Pompadours and the Du Barrys, there 
were humble oratories in which the most admirable 
royal family in tears took refuge: the pious queen, 
Marie Leczinska; her four daughters, one of whom was 
Madame Louise of France; the Dauphin, father of Louis 
XV 7 !., and his young and saintly wife. Never before 
were witnessed scandals so closely allied with virtues 
so angelic. In the whole royal family devotion to the 
Heart of Jesus was alive. Tt betrayed itself in so marked 
a manner that it is impossible to believe that the reve 
lation to the saint relative to the king of France was 
not known at the court. It was the queen, the pious 
and admirable wife of Louis XV., Marie Leczinska, who 
solicited and obtained from the bishops of France, sum 
moned to Paris for the assembly of 1765, that the public 
worship of the Sacred Heart should, "according to her 
ardent desire," be established in all the dioceses of 
France. 2 She and her daughters, amid ineffable pri 
vate sorrows, and apprehensions of inevitable public 
misfortunes, found no other consolation than in devo 
tion to the Heart of Jesus. The Dauphin went further. 
He caused- to be erected in the very palace of Ver 
sailles, as a place of refuge for them all, a chapel 
to the Sacred Heart. 3 It was thence came forth one 
day, beautiful and pure, to shut herself up among 
the Carmelites, the daughter of Louis XV., Madame 
Louise of France, whom the Church has already de 
clared Venerable, and who is going to be raised to her 
altars. If the sacrifice of an unspotted dove were in 
proportion to our crimes, France would have been saved; 

1 Circular of the second convent of Paris, May 25, 1698. Annee 
Sainte, Life of Sister Marie-Eleonore de Lorraine, vol. iii. p. 128. 

2 Proces-verbaux du clerge, t. viii. p. 1440. 

8 Life of the Dauphin, Father of Louis XVI. 



3io Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

but it had been ordained in the adorable designs of God 
that even the immolation of the king should not suffice, 
and that France should be saved only by the Sacred 
Heart. 

The son of him who had erected an oratory to the 
Heart of Jesus in the palace of Versailles, Louis XVI., 
had not yet mounted the throne when the tempest burst 
forth. Its progress was terrible. Every year saw an 
anchor break away, and soon it became evident that no 
human hand could stay the rudder. Then it was that 
the unfortunate Louis XVI. decided, though too late, 
to perform an action which, had it come in time, would 
perhaps have averted the danger. Cast from the throne 
into prison ; overwhelmed, not by his own misfortunes 
(for he had a soul magnanimous enough to rise above 
them), but by the misfortunes of France ; seeing no re 
sources on any side, he thought of Blessed Margaret 
Mary, and of the secret that had been confided to his 
grandfather. He resolved to accomplish the consecra 
tion of France to the Heart of Jesus, which God had 
asked of his fathers, but which had not been effected. 
With that hand and heart with which, so shortly after. 
were to be written those sublime pages called the "Last 
Will of Louis XVI.," he himself drew up the act of con 
secration of his person and his kingdom to the Heart of 
Jesus. 

We give this act, in which are found the very terms 
of our saint, the precise things that God had asked of 
her; and which, coming to us through the tears, the 
anguish of Louis XVI. in prison, has something solemn 
and tragic in it, like the last cries of a shipwrecked voy 
ager still vainly striving to save his loved ones. 

"Thou seest, O my God, the wounds that rend my 
heart, the depth of the abyss into which I am fallen, and 
the innumerable evils that encompass me on all sides ! 
To my own frightful misfortunes and those of my 
family are joined, to overwhelm my soul, those that 



The Devotion begins in the World. 3 1 1 

sweep over the face of my kingdom. The cries of the 
unfortunate, the groans of oppressed religious sound in 
my ears. An interior voice again warns me that per 
haps Thy justice reproaches me with all these calami 
ties, because in the days of my power I did not repress 
their principal sources, namely, the license of the people 
and irreligion ; because I myself have furnished trium 
phant heresy with arms by favoring it with laws which 
have increased its strength and rendered it audacious. 

" O Jesus Christ, Divine Redeemer of all our iniqui 
ties, it is into Thy Adorable Heart that I desire to pour 
out my afflicted soul. I call to my aid the tender heart 
of Mary, my august protectress and my mother, and the 
assistance of St. Louis, my patron and the most illus 
trious of my ancestors ! Open, O Adorable Heart, and 
from the pure hands of my powerful intercessors receive 
graciously the satisfactory vows my confidence inspires 
me to make, and which I offer Thee as the simple ex 
pression of my sentiments. 

"If, by an effect of Thy infinite goodness, O God, I 
regain my liberty, my crown, and my royal power, I 
solemnly promise : 

" i. To revoke as soon as possible all the laws that 
shall be pointed out to me, whether by the Pope, or by 
a council, or by four bishops chosen among the most 
virtuous anpl enlightened of my kingdom, as contrary to 
integrity and purity of faith, to the discipline and 
spiritual jurisdiction of the Holy Roman, Catholic, 
Apostolic Church, and notably the civil Constitution of the 
Clergy. 

" 2. Within a year to take, with the Pope and bishops 
of my kingdom, all necessary measures to establish in 
canonical form a SOLEMN FEAST IN HONOR OF THE SACRED 
HEART OF JESUS, which shall be celebrated to perpetuity 
throughout France on the FIRST FRIDAY AFTER THE 
OCTAVE OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. This shall always 
be followed by a public procession, to repair the out- 



3 1 2 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

rages and profanations committed in the holy temples 
by schismatics, heretics, and bad Christians, during the 
time of our troubles. 

" 3. Within three months, counting from the day of 
my deliverance, to go in person to the church of Notre 
Dame in Paris, or to any^other principal church of the 
place in which I may be, and on a Sunday or feast, at 
the foot of the main altar, after the Offertory of the 
Mass, and in the hands of the celebrant, pronounce A 

SOLEMN ACT OF CONSECRATION OF MY PERSON, FAMILY, AND 
KINGDOM TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, With the prom- 

ise to give my subjects an example of the honor and love 
due this Adorable Heart. 

"4. During the course of a year, counting from the 
day of my deliverance, TO ERECT AND DECORATE AT MY 
OWN EXPENSE, in the church that I shall choose for that 

purpose, A CHAPEL IN WHICH AN ALTAR SHALL BE DEDI 
CATED TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, and which shall 
serve as an eternal monument of my gratitude, and of 
my unlimited confidence in the infinite merits and the 
inexhaustible treasures of grace inclosed in that Heart. 
"5. Lastly, I resolve TO RENEW EVERY YEAR, wherever 
I may be, on the day upon which the feast of the Sacred 
Heart is celebrated, the ACT OF CONSECRATION CONTAINED 
IN THE THIRD ARTICLE, and to assist at the public pro 
cession that shall follow the Mass of that day. 

* To-day I can pronounce this engagement only in 
secret, but I am willing, if necessary, to sign it with my 
blood. The most beautiful day of my life will be that 
on which I shall be able to publish it aloud in the church. 
"O ADORABLE HEART OF MY SAVIOUR : may my right 
hand be forgotten, and may I myself be forgotten, if 
ever I forget Thy benefits and my promises, if ever I 
cease to love Thee and to place in Thee my confidence 
and consolation !" 

Behold the consecration of France to the Heart of 
Jesus by the lips^ or rather by the heart, of the martyr- 



The Devotion begins in the World. 3 1 3 

king ! Who does not feel that the words of the blessed 
Sister really reached Louis XIV., and that they were 
transmitted as a secret hope for the hour of peril ? All 
that Margaret had asked is indeed done : a consecration 
of France to the Heart of Jesus ; a national temple 
erected by the king, as an eternal monument of this 
consecration ; and, lastly, a feast and a solemn proces 
sion the Friday after the octave of the Blessed Sacra 
ment. Whence would we derive all these facts, did we 
not know the revelation made by God to Blessed Mar 
garet Mary, and, until the present, hidden in the archives 
of the Visitation of Paray? Now, all this the king 
knew ; and he promised in his own name, in the name 
of the royal family, in the name of France. Will there 
not some day be found a soul to do honor to such a sig 
nature ? 

After writing this consecration with his own hand, 
Louis XVI. gave it to Pere Hebert, his confessor, Supe 
rior-General of the Eudistes. The latter, fearing that so 
important a document might be lost, immediately made 
several copies of it, one of which he always carried 
about him. When himself condemned to death, he hid 
it at the moment of setting out for the scaffold in a chink 
of the stones of his prison. The other copies were scat 
tered, though with a thousand perils, in the midst of 
Christian families. At the same time began to be dis 
tributed from hand to hand, from dungeon to dungeon, 
little images of the Sacred Heart, the rallying sign, the 
gleam of hope. Soon even they were hoisted on the 
battle-field of the Vendee. Had these images come from 
the Temple, and did they know of the consecration of 
Louis XVI. ? or rather, had they in them only the revela 
tion to Margaret Mary, and did they obey the same inspi 
ration as the martyr-king? However that may be, when 
they rose up in arms, Henri de la Rochejaquelin, Lescure, 
Charette, Cathelineau, bore the Heart of Jesus on their 
breast. This was the last thing that God had asked of 



314 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Margaret Mary. The Vendeans finished the work of 
Louis XVI. 

Why did not Almighty God accept such a consecration 
of France from hands so pure, from a heart so worthy of 
being heard ? one feels tempted to ask in amazement. 
Hut we soon learn the reason. It was because Louis 
XVI. was not king, he was only a captive. The Vendeans 
were the giants, the mighty ones, but they were not France! 
France, instead of proclaiming the consecration of Louis 
XVI., dragged the king to the scaffold ; and instead of 
uniting with the Vendeans, shot them. The national 
homage demanded by God did not yet exist. 

Thus ended the eighteenth century. When standing 
at a distance in order to see best, we perceive, as it 
were, a double France : the first suffering, the second 
inflicting the pain ; the France of the victims, and the 
France of the executioners. On the victims, to support 
and console them, beamed the Adorable Heart of Jesus. 
As to the executioners, they also adored a heart. In the 
threatening shadow in which they hid, or under the 
sinister glare that enlightened them, we see some car- 
-ying in triumph the heart of Voltaire, and others kneel 
ing before trie heart of Marat. 

The Heart of Jesus, or the heart of Marat ! This was 
the cry at tne close of the eighteenth century. It would 
be well for it, sooner or later, to receive an answer! 



First-fruits of the Devotion. 315 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE FIRST-FRUITS OF DEVOTION TO THE 

HEART THE CHURCH OF FRANCE VIVIFIED IN THE 
RAYS OF THE SACRED HEART BEATIFICATION OF 
BLESSED MARGARET MARY. 

" Jam hiems transiit ; imber abiit, et recessit. Floras apparuerunt 
in terra nostra ; vox turturis audita est in terra nostra; vineae florentes 
dederunt odorem suum. Surge, arnica mea, speciosa mea, et veni." 

" For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers 
have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come : the voice of 
the turtle is heard in our land : the vines in flower yield their sweet 
smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come." Cant. ii. 11-13. 

LESSED MARGARET MARY gradually came 
forth from obscurity. She rose slowly in glory, 
leaning on her Beloved. 1 As long as the devotion 
to the Heart of Jesus had not been approved at Rome 
the humble Margaret remained in obscurity. But it 
was now time for her to rise to our altars, that the glory 
of the revdatrix might show forth resplendently the 
beauty of the revelation. 

The eighteenth century closed, however, without 
Margaret Mary s being declared Venerable. Her process 
of canonization, had been begun in 1715; and although, 
in its brevity, it felt the effects of the sad times through 
which it was passing, though it had neither religious 
grandeur nor the precision and abundance of details 
that characterize similar grand acts of the sixteenth 
century, enough had been heard from contemporary 
witnesses, and too many admirable facts had been col 
lected, to allow any doubt as to the success of the cause. 
But the acts of the process of 1715 were sleeping in the 
1 Cant. vii. 5. 



316 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

episcopal archives of Autun, and were not sent to Rome 
till 1820 that is, after an interval of one hundred and 
five years. Pilgrimages began to the chapel of Paray; 
and the years 1745 and 46, periods of fearful epidemics, 
saw the pilgrims multiply. The name of Margaret 
could not, however, be mingled with public prayers, 
and her body rested, without other glory than the faith 
ful remembrance of her Sisters, under the choir slab 
where it had been laid in 1690. One hundred years had 
flown, and nothing was yet changed in her regard. 

The Revolution swept like an impious whirlwind over 
France, uprooting thrones, overthrowing altars, sup 
pressing convents. That of Paray was closed like the 
others, and the religious driven out. Must they, then, 
abandon that cherished sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, 
that sanctuary redolent with holy memories of our Lord, 
that garden in which He had appeared, those hallowed 
spots upon which they had so often kissed His foot 
steps? At least they would not leave without taking 
their treasure with them, the humble wooden casket 
that contained the bones of their blessed Sister. They 
laid them in a safe place, then changed their dress and 
separated, some to their own families, others to small 
houses that they rented in the city, and there remained 
faithful in secret to their God, whom they were no longer 
permitted to adore in public. There they lay concealed 
until the Revolution passed. They were like travellers 
surprised by a storm and seeking refuge in some cave 
until the clouds should roll away and sunshine return. 

As soon as liberty was restored to them, they took 
active measures to regain possession of their convent. 
But, alas ! it had been sold as public property, shared 
among several proprietors, and the Sisters were poor! 
More than twenty years were spent in fruitless efforts. 
At the close of 1817, seeing that their exertions amounted 
to nothing; that death was diminishing their number 
without their having resumed the religious life to which 



First-fruits of the Devotion. 317 

they had been consecrated in their youth, a house hav 
ing been offered them at Charite-sur-Loire, they decided 
to go there. As we have seen the monks of the Middle 
Ages shouldering the relics of their saints and fleeing 
before the incursions of the Normans, so, on quitting 
Paray, the Sisters determined to carry with them the 
humble coffin that contained the precious remains of 
Margaret Mary. But hardly had their determination 
become known in the city, than it excited extraordinary 
commotion, and the magistrates interfered to oppose 
the departure. The mayor even went so far as to have 
the city seals affixed to the wooden casket, and, as in 
the Ages of Faith, they set a guard around it. Things 
remained thus till June 16, 1823, when, under the pres 
sure of public opinion, and with charitable assistance, 
the Sisters were enabled, at a cost of fifty thousand 
francs, to regain possession of their old home. The Rev 
olution, that had demolished so many abbeys and illus 
trious convents, had respected this one. It was stand 
ing, old and battered indeed, but still complete. The 
entire city conducted processionally the aged religious 
carrying in their arms the remains of Margaret Mary. 
No painter s brush could portray the emotion of those 
venerable religious on again beholding that chapel, 
those grates, the witnesses of our Lord s apparitions; 
the little cell in which Margaret Mary died; the stair 
case of the seraphim; the novitiate oratory; the grove 
of hazels, which had blossomed and was actually 
blooming as if there had not been a revolution; the 
chapel of the Sacred Heart in the middle of the garden, 
closed and locked by the religious at the time of their 
departure, and into which, as if our Lord wished to 
preserve from sacrilegious contact the sanctuary of His 
Adorable Heart, no one during the whole period of the 
Revolution had entered. All was as on the first day; 
all was redolent of piety, all was venerable, full of in 
effaceable traces of Jesus Christ and His servant. The 

MONTREAL FREE LIBRARY 



3 1 8 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Sisters mingled their tears with their kisses, and forgot 
in a pious rapture their thirty years of exile and suffer 
ing. 

One of the places that had most suffered was the 
chapel. The arched roof was full of cracks, and the 
pictures of the Heart of Jesus on the walls were cut in a 
thousand places. An "architect proposed demolishing 
the old building, which was threatened with ruin, and 
presented the religious a plan for a grand chapel in its 
stead. But the bare idea inspired them with horror, 
and, thanks to the good old nuns, the sanctuary of the 
communications of the Heart of Jesus, more fortunate 
than the church of Verosvres, was preserved to the 
veneration of the faithful. 

Reinstalled in their convent, the Sisters had but one 
thought: that of resuming as quickly as possible the 
cause of the canonization of their holy Sister. God 
blessed their endeavors, for in the course of the year, 
March 30, 1824, Leo XII. signed the commission for the 
introduction of the cause, and the servant of God was 
declared Venerable. Six years after, during the year of 
1830, the Commissaries Apostolic arrived in France, 
delegated by the Holy See to inquire into the heroic 
virtues of Margaret Mary. They held their sessions 
during five entire months at Paray; then went to Autun, 
convoked witnesses; followed religiously the least traces 
of the saint; and, before returning to Rome, wished to 
proceed to the opening of the tomb and the authentic 
recognition of the relics. The diocesan bishop, Mgr. 
d Hericourt, presided at this ceremony, at which a large 
number of priests and "religious assisted. Four physi 
cians were present. The coffin-lid was raised, and all 
that remained of the virginal envelope of the favored 
Sister only some bones exhaling the aroma of im 
mortality was disclosed to the reverent gaze of the by 
standers. With deep emotion they contemplated that 
head which our Lord had one day pressed to His breast; 



First-fruits of the Devotion. 3 1 9 

those large cavities whose eyes once saw Him resplen 
dent on the altar; that, also, of the heart into which our 
Lord once put His hand, and kindled by His sacred 
touch the divine fire which consumed the saint. This 
was all that remained of the mortal temple in which the 
great soul had dwelt. An unlooked-for circumstance 
suddenly raised the general emotion to the highest de 
gree. The bones were dried up and the flesh consumed. 
The head alone was intact. Wonderful prodigy! It 
had resisted the corruption of the grave. That portion 
of the human body so tender, so delicate, which dis 
solves so quickly, which is always the first to see cor 
ruption, there it was, after one hundred and forty years, 
in all its freshness! One could not believe his eyes. 
The miracle was most brilliant. Four physicians at 
tested it, and great was the amazement at the proces- 
verbal. Thus this humble though great religious, 
whom the eighteenth century had overwhelmed with 
raillery, whom the Jansenists treated as a fool, a poor 
maniac, a deranged head, was, from a scientific and 
medical standpoint, proved to have possessed a head 
that was the best constructed part of her whole frame, 
since it was the part that best resisted the action of death 
and time. 

Two extraordinary cures, one of which was submitted 
to the examination of the Sacred Congregation and was 
declared miraculous, filled all hearts with holy joy. 

A poor, sick Sister, given up by the physicians, Marie- 
Therese Pitit, had been confined for three months to a 
bed of pain, and in such a state of weakness and ex 
haustion that, even by putting the ear to her mouth, her 
words could with difficulty be caught. Learning that 
Margaret Mary s tomb was to be opened, she rallied her 
strength in the ardor of her faith, placed on her breast 
some linen that had been around the holy relics, and 
on the instant felt in the region of her heart some 
wonderful change. Entirely cured, she rose at once and 



320 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

went to kneel, happy and grateful, at the tomb of her 
benefactress. This .miracle is mentioned in the Decree 
of the Miracles. 

The same day a poor, infirm workwoman arrived at 
the tornb, brought thither from Lyons by a charitable 
person. As she could not walk, she had to be carried. 
The decay consequent upon a certain accident had at 
tacked her bones, and made such progress that the phy 
sicians, having removed part of the tibia, declared am 
putation necessary. Her friends bore her to the holy 
tomb, where she at once arose, knelt without pain, and 
then stood erect. She had become so strong that they 
who had brought her weak and helpless now took 
pleasure in letting her walk. 

It was under the lively impression of all these events 
that the Apostolic Notaries finished their visit. After 
the proces-verbal had been drawn up by the physicians, 
and the surgeons sworn, they inclosed the holy relics in 
a new casket, sealed it with the bishop s arms, and re 
spectfully deposited it under a slab at one of the cor 
ners of the cloister; for they thought the hour near in 
which they should bring her forth again with glory, to 
be exposed on the altar for public veneration. 

That day was, indeed, to come. If prodigies that 
every day attested her sanctity were brilliant, what were 
they beside another miracle greater still, one which for 
over thirty years was accomplished under the eyes of 
the astonished nineteenth century ! The great proof of 
Margaret s sanctity lay not in the cure of the sick. It 
is best seen in the Church of France itself, rewarmed, 
revivified through her by rays from the Sacred Heart. 
Thus are her prophecies realized ; thus is the ice of 
these latter times melted. It is the Heart of Jesus tri 
umphing over all obstacles, reigning in spite of Satan 
and his agents. It is the marvellous renaissance of 
faith, of piety, of the purest love of God, of the most 



The Church Vivified in the Sacred Heart. 321 

enthusiastic devotedness to the Church in France of 
Louis XV., of Voltaire, of Robespierre, and of Marat. 

Yes, Catholic France, born again in the nineteenth 
century, has expanded under the beams of the Sacred 
Heart. All that was good in her she has resuscitated 
and developed, she has displayed in flowers more beau 
tiful than ever, in fruits more sweet and luscious. Be 
hold, for instance, her missionaries, her apostles ! At 
what epoch have they been more numerous, more poor, 
more pure, more fruitful than in the nineteenth century? 
We travel very fast to-day. We have invented steam, 
railroads, the telegraph; but there is one that travels 
more quickly still, and that one is the apostle. When 
our soldiers push on to the very extremities of the 
world, even to the walls of Pekin, there is found one 
awaiting them, one to receive them with the chant of 
the Te Deum ! When they touch upon those countries 
at which the Englishman himself, the commercial Eng 
lishman, pauses for want of courage to carry further his 
traffic, there is found one that does not stop, one that 
presses on, one that ever advances : it is the French 
missionary, reanimated, rewarmed in the nineteenth 
century by the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. 

And whilst all around our frontiers this army of apos 
tles is drawn up, who here in France does not feel him 
self likewise rekindled ? 

The priest s heart ! Ah ! compare the priest of 1770 
with the priest of 1870, with our incomparable French 
clergy who, under the fire of incessant publicity and 
evil-mindedness, have forced admiration from even their 
enemies. 

The virgin s heart ! France knows that there are to 
day on French soil more than one hundred thousand 
maidens who have left all ; who in the flower of youth 
and beauty, in the hour of sweetest hopes, have 
left all to consecrate themselves to the love and adora 
tion of Jesus Christ ! One hundred thousand young 



322 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

girls, pure, chaste, vowed to the sole love of God and 
mankind, in an age like ours ! Who does not see here 
the impression of the Heart of Jesus Christ on the 
heart of the Church ? 

The heart of the mother ! Ah ! it, too, will be sensi 
bly warmed. Never at any epoch, if we except the first 
ages of Christianity, have mothers been more jealous of 
the beauty of their children s soul, more holily eager for 
their salvation ; never have they better transformed 
their maternity into the priesthood, and their love into 
an apostolate. Our century is undoubtedly very de 
praved ; but the mother s heart beats too sublimely for 
us not to hope all things from it. Let us not doubt 
the age of the Augustines will be redeemed and trans 
figured by the age of the Monicas ! 

The hearts of our young men ! Will they not also be 
rekindled ? Is it not by young men that the admirable 
society of St. Vincent de Paul, which to-day extends 
over the whole world, was founded ? And the works of 
St. Francis Regis, of St. Francis Xavier, of St. Joseph 
who supports them ? who maintains them ? Is it not 
Christian youth inflamed by the greater love of Jesus 
Christ ? Oh, the French youth ! They shine in the 
nineteenth century with a double and glorious aureola, 
for tiiey have given their heart to the poor and their 
blood to the Pope ! 

All, then, are warmed: the heart of the apostle and 
the priest, the heart of the virgin and the mother, the 
heart of the young man. All Christian hearts are now 
beating in unison ; and the sacred flame is the flame of 
immolation, of sacrifice, of love. In what are they all 
occupied, these young people, these virgins, these Chris 
tian women, these men of the world ? In visiting the 
poor, protecting children, consoling the afflicted, spread 
ing faith and hope in every place in which detestable 
doctrines once sowed irritation and despair. Tell me of 
$ome disease, and I shall tell you what sacred battalion 



The Church Vivified in the Sacred Heart. 323 

is employed in tending and consoling the sufferer. And 
as the old theologians taught that there is in heaven for 
each star a choir of angels to direct and inhabit it, even 
so there is to-day for every misery a choir of virgins, of 
young men, or Christian women, charged to beguile it 
into hope and embalm it with charity. 

But how greatly admiration increases when we behold 
at the cost of what sacrifices, in what poverty, in spite of 
what laws and malevolence, are established and re-estab 
lished all those apostolic works of charity! Enemies had 
sold all, proscribed all, destroyed all : these champions 
of Christ have redeemed all, re-established all. If Louis 
XIV. could be born again, he would find nothing of his 
old monarchy. He would, we may well believe, return 
sad enough to his royal tomb, unwilling to live in the 
midst of a society no longer known to him. If, on the 
contrary, Blessed Margaret Mary should reappear, she 
would behold nothing changed in the Church. " See," 
she would say, " that holy Society of Jesus, in which I 
found Pere de la Colombiere, Pere Croiset, Pere de Gal- 
lifet, all those venerable men who were the first servers 
and adorers of the Heart of Jesus. Behold them, those 
pious Benedictines, in the grand church overshadowing 
the little convent of Paray; behold them born again over 
the whole face of France, renewed and transformed in 
Burgundy by that venerable Pere Muard who, after re 
suscitating the Order of St. Benedict, to rewarm it 
placed on his breast the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Behold 
those Dominicans they, too, regenerated by a man 
who was a saint before being a renowned orator; those 
Capuchins, those Oratorians, all those religious men 
and women ; all those works that then existed, though 
slightly languishing. All have found new strength, 
power, youth, vigor, such as they never possessed in the 
old society. They have now something that renders 
them more apostolic, more able to conquer, more fruitful, 
more holily passionate for God and for the Church." 



324 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

What rouses our greatest admiration in this renais 
sance of Catholic works in the nineteenth century is 
that all have lived in misery, yet all have.lived in liberty. 
They have lived in misery ! They were robbed of 
their wealth, and forbidden to acquire more ; they held 
out their hands to beg they knew not to-day on what 
they were to subsist to-morrow : and yet they lived. 

They lived in liberty! The eighteenth century pro 
claimed on every possible key that it was the religious 
grates, the laws, and decisions of parliament that pro 
tected vows. They said: " Destroy the grates, repeal 
the laws, and you will see the religious life perish mis 
erably." Ah, well ! The laws were abolished, parlia 
ments destroyed the grates : the inmates may now clear 
them when they please and as they please ; every facility 
is offered them. But never has the religious life been 
more pure, more redolent of virtue. Whilst the enemies 
of the Church tore down the grates and opened the con 
vent doors, though without succeeding in making the 
religious leave their seclusion, the Church, more daring 
still, took the virgin from her cloister, and sent her into 
the cities and the villages, into hospitals, schools, and . 
workshops, yes, even into prisons. And these religious, 
so free, so identified with the crowd, do you know what 
kind of vows the Church allows them to make? Very 
simple ones; and the greater number of them make 
those vows for only one year at a time. There is one 
day in every year, November 2ist, upon which nearly 
one hundred thousand religious are free, for their vows 
expired the preceding midnight. Can you imagine such 
a spectacle? One hundred thousand religious freed 
yearly to return to the world, to marry if it seems good 
to them. And yet the next morning, at the Mass of 
seven o clock, all voluntarily and generously resume 
the chains that had fallen off, yes, that it was even theirs 
to unbind. I ask the detractors of religious Orders, do 



The Church Vivified in the Sacred Heart. 325 

they know of many oaths that could bear to be sub 
mitted to a similar test? 

In the midst of this vast display of active love, this 
grand multiplication of apostolic works, contemplation 
suffers not. Do you know that there are to-day more 
Carmelite convents than there were in the time of Louis 
XIV.? Do you know that the Visitation is as fervent, 
as humble, as contemplative as when directed by St. 
Francis de Sales or St. Vincent de Paul ? Do you know 
that the sons of St. Bernard are more numerous, more 
austere in their Trappist homes, than they were in De 
Ranee s time? Do you know that the spirit of prayer 
has been revived in families, among maidens, wives, 
mothers, women of the world? Do you know that 
self-discipline has become a part of Catholic morals, 
and that there is no day, no night, in which a mul 
titude of Christians, of husbands, wives, and mothers, 
even of young girls, do not voluntarily imprint upon 
themselves the bloody stigmata of the Passion of 
Jesus Christ? Every day throws some new light on 
the mysteries of contemplation and penance buried 
in the heart of our own century. Only yesterday I 
read an admirable book in which the greatest Christian 
orator we have had since Bossuet, namely, Pere Lacor- 
daire, was shown me all wounded by penitential blows. 
Causing himself, on leaving the pulpit of Notre Dame, 
to be tied to a pillar and beaten with scourges until he 
fainted, he equals and even surpasses the most austere 
penitents, though still unable to satisfy the thirst for 
immolation and sacrifice that devoured him. 1 And yet 
all is not told of him nor of others. When the secrets 
of lives shall be revealed on the last day, we shall un 
derstand why this age, so agitated and so guilty, has not 
been sunk in the depths of the abyss ; and we shall 
bless the Church for having redeemed it by forcing it 
to suffer and to immolate itself for Christ. 
1 Le P. Lacordaire, Sa Vie Intime, par le R. P. Chocarne. I vol. octavo. 



326 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Now, what is the source of all these wonders ? Mani 
festly, all spring from the Heart of Jesus, known, adored, 
loved, casting its beneficent rays over the whole world. 
The old fear has departed, the cold breath of Jansenism 
has vanished ; under the fire of love, the ice has every 
where melted. The holy table is more frequented ; 
daily is the Lord more tenderly received, and by a 
greater number. This is the hidden source, the well- 
spring of all these marvels. It is thence comes to the 
Church of the nineteenth century her beauty, her fruit- 
fulness, her invincible strength. The Heart of Jesus 
has darted its rays upon her. It has vivified her, 
warmed her, transfigured her, and rendered her all 
beautiful. And here we behold Margaret Mary s great 
miracle. She knew it in advance, she predicted it, she 
trembled with joy at the thought of it. In her humility, 
she asked to die that she might not be an obstacle to it, 
that she might not for one moment delay the glorifica 
tion of the Heart of Jesus, and the universal rekindling 
of love in hearts. It was this movement daily becoming 
more brilliant and more irresistible that pleaded her 
cause at Rome, and advanced it in spite of a thousand 
obstacles. 

From the departure of the Apostolic Notaries for 
Paray in 1830, forty years were necessary to examine 
the virtues and writings of the saintly Sister. Every 
thing was analyzed, studied, and discussed with that 
exactitude, that maturity, which characterizes the ir 
revocable acts of the Roman court. The Congregation 
of Rites had just pronounced favorably on the hero- 
icity of our saint s virtues, when Gregory XVI. died, 
leaving to Pius IX. the glory and joy of proclaiming 
them. It was one of the first acts of his illustrious pon 
tificate. Scarcely seated on the Chair of St. Peter, Pius 
IX. raised his eyes to the Heart of Jesus ; and one morn 
ing in the month of July, 1846, saw him going on foot 
to the Quirinal, to the Visitation, there to say Mass, and 



Bea tifica tion of Blessed Ma rga ret Ma ry. 327 

to announce to the Sisters, trembling with emotion, that 
the hour was come to promote, at one and the same time, 
devotion to the Sacred Heart and the glory of its servant. 
The decree appeared in the month following, August 23, 
1846, during the octave of the feast of St. Chantal, the 
foundress of the Visitation. A delicate thought had de 
cided the choice of this day, and it again brought the 
Pope into the midst of the daughters of St. Francis de 
Sales, to break to them the happy news of the future 
glorification of their holy Sister. 

All was now thought to be ended. Alas ! twenty- 
four years were still to elapse before the last and solemn 
Decree of Beatification, April 24, 1864. The delay had, 
however, no other effect than to excite the impatience of 
the Christian people, and to prepare for Margaret Mary 
a triumph worthy of her. 

It began at Paray by a new opening of the tomb, with a 
view to recognize definitively the holy relics. They were 
not to be returned to their resting-place, and from them 
was to be taken the special relic which, on the altar of 
St. Peter, was to receive the first homage of the Pope 
and the Church. Although very private, this opening 
of the tomb had in it something triumphal ; for no 
public demonstrations of joy and devotion were as yet 
permitted. But the humble cloister in which Margaret 
rested, and in which her feast was to be celebrated, saw 
its poor walls hidden under ornamentation the most 
brilliant. Oriflambs, escutcheons, pictures, devices in 
verse and prose, everywhere met the gaze. All was 
bright, elegant, devout, and pleasing. All was like unto 
the spirit of St. Francis de Sales ; and, let us add, for 
this was what touched us most, all was in a high degree 
Catholic and French. In the solitude of the little con 
vent, shut in on all sides, whose inmates the votaries of 
the world imagined knew only how to raise toward heaven 
an egotistical eye, was felt the great soul of France pal 
pitating, of that France which had not abdicated her 



328 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoqiie. 

baptism and which, in the midst of all her sadness and 
misfortunes, still hoped on. The oriflambs streaming 
from the windows all along the galleries were ablaze 
with emblems and devices ; loud cries of love for the 
Church and the Holy Father, for France and Paray, for 
the whole nation, cries of love for their home in heaven 
and for that of earth, united on all the escutcheons as 
they did in all hearts. 

Mgr. de Marguerie, Bishop of Autun, who had taken 
the most pious and intelligent interest in the cause of 
the Beatification, presided at this private ceremony. 
After forming a jury for the recognition of the relics, 
and receiving the oath on the holy Gospels of all about 
to help at the opening of the coffin, priests, physicians, 
workmen, he went to the humble tomb containing the 
remains of the venerable Sister. They were laid in one 
of the corners of the cloister, under a simple stone, upon 
which was inscribed merely her name. As if to make 
amends for its poverty, there were seen all around on 
the wall hearts of gold or silver suspended as tokens of 
the veneration that embalmed her memory, and the 
favors obtained by her intercession. The tombstone 
being carefully raised, in an excavation sufficiently 
deep was disclosed the wooden coffin that contained 
the bones of the venerable Sister. Withou* opening it, 
and after having permitted some few to kiss it, a rich 
pall was thrown over it, and the honor of carrying il 
was left to the tender and loving hands of her Sisters. 
It was borne processionally through the cloister to the 
room in which the relics were to be examined. The 
Visitandines, with lighted tapers, and chanting the 
Office of Virgins, walked before the casket ; and over 
three hundred priests, accompanied by the chief magis 
trates and inhabitants of the city, followed the holy 
relics in silence. The countenance of all, recollected or 
beaming with joy, proclaimed better than words the 
sentiments that filled their heart. 



Beatification of Blessed Margaret Mary. 329 

Thus came forth from her tomb, never again to enter 
it, this illustrious virgin of God ! Thus, after two cen 
turies, did she traverse again, in triumphant recollection, 
and hidden as was her life, those cloisters that she had 
once filled with the perfume of her humility ! In spite 
of a revolution that had crushed empires and scattered 
royal races, the religious of the Visitation were still 
there to form the cortege, to carry their Sister s blessed 
remains, to make glad her path by their songs of joy, 
their prayers, and their tears ! 

Arrived at the assembly-room, the procession paused, 
and all bowed low in veneration of the precious wood 
that inclosed the virginal body of one of the purest of 
God s creatures. Then they opened the coffin and ex-, 
posed to view all that remained in this world of her to 
whom our Lord had so frequently appeared. Admirable 
fact ! Skeletons inspire horror, but not so those of the 
saints. The mouldering bones, the shreds of flesh 
gone to dust found in the depths of a tomb and for 
which no language has a name, whether once animated 
by a mighty genius, whether once transfigured by glory 
and beauty, all creates fear. But if the love of God, 
the heroism of sanctity, cling around those remains, 
behold, they live forever ! To touch them, to kiss 
them, was the desire of the crowd. It was actually 
necessary to drive them from the church, to prevent 
their throwing themselves on the sacred body, pressing 
to it their lips, and distributing its remains. Death 
was conquered, and life was felt triumphantly circulat 
ing through the dry bones. 

During the examination and veneration of the relics 
occurred one most impressive moment. Deep anxiety 
filled all hearts. The head, which up to 1830 had been 
preserved from corruption, in what state would it now 
be found ? Would God allow a sign of life still to reside 
in the dry bones? The bishop raised the cranium. 
Behold the august sign ! Vainly had the past thirty- 



330 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

four years rolled by ! Vainly had the casket been 
opened and the head exposed to the air ! It has con 
tinued the same, intact, living ! We prostrate, we ad 
mire, we adore ! We relate analogous facts, and all 
hearts beat with holy enthusiasm. When, for example, 
Mary Magdalen died, and time had gradually dried up 
all her bones, there was in her, also, a morsel of flesh 
that resisted corruption. It was that which the Lord 
had touched when she approached Him after His resur 
rection. With the words, " Noli me tangere," He laid 
His finger on her forehead to keep her at a distance. 
Twelve hundred years after, on that spot of the fore 
head, the flesh appeared quick and living, as if to show 
us human flesh, even the most profaned, after the trans 
figuring finger of God has touched it to purify it. In 
like manner, when St. John Nepomucene was martyred 
for not revealing the secrets of the confessional, his 
tongue was spared, although his whole body had become 
the prey of death. Three hundred years after his 
death, it was found fresh and living, an eternal witness 
to the divinity of the confessional. Again, when St. 
Chantal died, nothing could dry up her heart. It still 
seemed to live. At certain moments it was seen to 
swell with sorrow or love, as if to teach the world not 
to doubt the ardor with which it beat when living. In 
Margaret Mary s case it was the head that resisted 
death, because it was of the head the world doubted. 
God preserved it intact, in order to render venerable 
the thoughts that emanated from it. Let us add faith 
in the sublime inventions of which it was the organ. 

Ah ! long years must pass before we shall forget our 
emotion when the head of Margaret Mary, entire and 
intact, was given us to hold in our hands. We were 
almost alone, for the crowd had been forced to retire, 
that the physicians might have more liberty to recog 
nize the relics, to contemplate at leisure what remained 
of her body, and in that study to form some conjecture 



Beatification of Blessed Margaret Mary. 331 

of what the holy soul had been. Those delicate bones, 
those well-proportioned curves, the beauty of the fore 
head, the breadth of the temples, the incorruptibility 
of the cranium, the fine lines of the face, all these re 
mains of the mortal vase that once inclosed so beautiful 
a soul afforded us, as it were, a glimpse of the saint 
such it might seem she was two hundred years ago, in 
the days of her earthly pilgrimage. She was of medium 
height, though rather tall than short, of a fragile and 
delicate constitution, as God makes souls whom He has 
destined for great sufferings ; of exquisite sensibility, as 
is fitting to those who are to love much. She added to 
this great intelligence, perfect good sense, judgment 
proof against every species of delusion, as was requisite 
in order not to mingle the imagination and human 
ideas with what God deigned to reveal to her. To com 
plete the picture, she was possessed of a gentle but un 
shaken will ; a soul patient but immovable, which 
recoiled before no opposition ; of love so ardent and 
such power of devotedness that no sacrifice could ever 
satisfy. She possessed, moreover, elevation and deli 
cacy of sentiment, and a depth of heart which rendered 
her capable of understanding the Heart of her Divine 
Master, of divining its sublime inventions, of presenting 
them to a cold and railing world, and of leading it to 
their acceptance in preparation for its own regeneration. 
Behold the illustrious Margaret Mary, such as her 
soul appeared to us whilst, with respectful hand and 
agitated heart, we replaced one by one in a rich casket 
of silver-gilt the remains of her virginal body ! That 
done, the religious again took it up joyously, and we 
carried it in triumph to the interior choir, where it was 
placed on the throne prepared for it. Above it were 
two figures of angels holding a virgin s crown. There 
the precious relics were to remain until the solemn day 
of Beatification, which took place in Rome, September 
4 ; 1864. From early dawn on that memorable day, the 



33 2 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

cannon of St. Angelo announced in joyous boomings 
that the lover of the Heart of Jesus was about to be 
proclaimed Blessed. On the evening of the same day, 
Pius IX., attended by a numerous cortege, in which we 
remarked over two hundred French priests, knelt be 
fore her picture. The bishop of the diocese to wh ich 
the blessed Sister belonged approached the Father of 
the Faithful and, together with his allegiance and that 
of the Church of France, offered him some simple gifts, 
among them a bouquet of flowers, emblematic of the 
virtues that his diocese had seen flourish in the humble 
Visitandine parterre of Paray, and whose perfume was 
now about to embalm the whole Church. The year 
following, the feast of the Beatification was celebrated 
in every convent of the Visitation. At Paray it lasted 
three days with extraordinary brilliancy, over a hundred 
thousand persons being in attendance. His Eminence 
the Cardinal-Archbishop of Besangon presided, assisted 
by the prelates of Autun, Bourges, Dijon, Nimes, 
Evreux, Annecy, and Hebron ; the mitred abbots of 
Sept-Fonds, d Aiguebelles, of Mount Olives, of Sainte- 
Marie-du-Mont, of Grace-dc-Dieu ; over four hundred 
priests and a multitude of religious belonging to vari 
ous Orders. The holy relics were removed from their 
humble wooden casket and placed in a magnificent one 
of silver-gilt set with precious stones, amethysts, and 
topaz, and enamelled in the style of the Middle Ages. 
For three days the relics were carried in triumph through 
the parish streets of Paray, on the shoulders of twenty- 
four priests robed in dalmatics. Nothing could exceed 
the beauty of these processions, which recalled the 
splendor of those of the Middle Ages. But what 
would be still more difficult to describe is their trium 
phal character, the joy depicted on all faces, the enthu 
siasm that swelled all hearts. One felt himself at the 
last act of a sublime drama, of which he recalled the 
humble beginning and the sorrowful progress with its 



Beatification of Blessed Margaret Mary. 333 

hard trials. We now touch as with the hand the mag 
nificent denouement. God s promises were then re 
alized. The Church of France was there before the 
eyes of all, living, fervent, rejuvenated, warmed by the 
beams of the Sacred Heart. Margaret Mary ascended 
the altars. The Heart of Jesus reigned, in spite of all 
its enemies, and illumined the wide world. 

After three days of holy inebriation, the virginal body 
was carried again into the chapel of the Visitation. 
There our humble Margaret Mary now rests. They 
have laid her in a splendid casket beneath the white 
marble altar, under the very spot upon which our Lord 
appeared to her. Fifty-three lamps cast their radiant 
light upon this altar, now become a sepulchre. They 
burn day and night in honor of the Divine Spouse and 
His humble servant. The pilgrim on his arrival pauses, 
involuntarily moved. The sweet mysteries accomplished 
in this place : on the one side, virginity, tenderness, 
thirst for immolation, heavenly detachment ; on the 
other, condescension, mercy, infinite love ; and the 
divine effects, touching and sublime, of the drama 
enacted on this altar, all that speaks to the soul. He 
forgets himself for hours in mute contemplation. 
There have been places more highly venerated on this 
earth, but there are very few more august or more 
sweet. 



334 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque* 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

UNEXPECTED AND MARVELLOUS SPREAD OF DEVO 
TION TO THE HEART OF JESUS AMID THE MISFOR 
TUNES OF FRANCE-THE SECOND PART OF THE 
MISSION CONFIDED TO BLESSED MARGARET MARY 
APPROACHES ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. 

1870-1874. 

ABNER. "The holy Ark is silent and gives no more oracles." 
JOAD. " Ah! what time was ever more fruitful in miracles! 
Shall we, then, always have eyes and see not ?" 

Racine, Athalie. " 

HE first part of the mission confided to Blessed 
Margaret Mary was ended, but not so the second. 
"The words spoken for the Pope and the Church 
had been realized; those spoken for the king and 
France had been despised. Neither Louis XIV. nor 
Louis XV. had deigned to notice them; and the lamenta 
tions of the captive Louis XVI. were drowned in the 
blasphemies of the Revolution. Thus, whilst the Church 
in France opened to the nineteenth century under the 
sweet and genial rays of the Sacred Heart, and pro 
duced unrelaxingly and unwearingly the most savory 
fruits of faith, charity, and purity, of the apostolate and 
of martyrdom, society, civil and political, strayed further 
and further toward destruction. In vain had God 
given France of the nineteenth century gifts the most 
beautiful: gifts of genius, eloquence, science, glory; gifts 
greater than at any other epoch. Like a sick man re 
fusing the only remedy that contains a cure for him, 
she saw her evils increase every day. Torn by a Utopian 
and impious revolution from her old national and 
Christian constitutions, fruit of the experience of fifteen 



Spread of Devotion to the Heart of Jesus. 335 

centuries, she has since been unable to find her centre. 
She has tried in turn the republic, the empire, and con 
stitutional royalty. She returned to the republic, then 
to the empire, and back again to the republic. Ever 
agitated, disquieted, and ill at ease, she finally went so 
far as to abandon all her constitutions, and, not know 
ing which to choose, she ended in a futile attempt to 
rest on the provisional pillow, thus showing to the world 
in her own person the greatest political incapacity yet 
recorded in history. 

At the same time France felt in her bosom the mut- 
terings of most awful passions. Shamefully hidden in 
the folds of guilty hearts were pride, envy, covetous- 
ness. Kept in check hitherto by the power of Christian 
conscience, they now publicly showed themselves, 
united, and became an army. The cannon of civil war, 
unheard in France since the time of Henry IV., which 
had sounded neither in the seventeenth nor even in the 
eighteenth century, began to boom in the nineteenth. 
During three days of 1830, at two different intervals of 
48, and forsix whole months in 7o,itsominous tones burst 
forth. Every fifteen years the fratricidal war assumed 
vaster and more odious proportions, whilst opulent 
France danced on the volcano and stirred its flames. 
Her great writers, Lamartine, Thiers, Michelet, Victor 
Hugo, glorified Robespierre, acquitted Marat, palliated 
Louis XVI. s execution, and even hailed it as a grand, 
patriotic act. Her savants employed their learning, 
their discoveries, and even the resources of the state to 
assert that there is no God, no soul, no living and im 
mortal mind; that all will one day be reduced to vile 
matter; and that the ideas of vice, virtue, liberty, respon 
sibility, are good old words, but, like those that taught 
them to us, worthy only of contempt. Her industries, 
her great proprietors, the directors of her public works, 
neglected no means to snatch God and every idea of 
religion from the heart of the mechanic, the laborer, and 



336 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

the poor. Ah, that was not the most excellent means 
to render them upright, honest, chaste, and religious ob 
servers of the rights and property of others! The poets, 
the novelists, the dramatists of France labored day and 
night to make the theatre a hell. Her high-born ladies 
seemed to regret the happy days of Mme. de Montespan, 
of Mme. de Pompadour, of Mme. du Barry; and, no 
longer having under their eyes models so illustrious, 
they set to work to imitate the allurements, the cos 
tumes, the walk, even the language of their sisters of 
the demi-monde. Morals became corrupted, minds ob 
scured, character weakened, health destroyed; physical 
and moral deformity invaded every circle. Meanwhile 
our grave statesmen were occupied only in watching 
that God and religion might not gain too much influ 
ence. 

Then came the barbarians! Their hour sounded. 

History will long record their deeds, though not 
knowing how to describe the Queen of Nations, accus 
tomed to conquer, always victorious, rising twenty times 
to a degree of heroism that her conquerors had never 
known, and yet falling as often into the dust. Her 
counsels were reversed, her chiefs paralyzed; the very 
elements turned against her, the better to mark whence 
came defeat. In seven months of struggle France 
found again neither one flash of her genius nor one ray 
of her happiness. 

As everything connected with this nation must be ex 
traordinary, so, too, with her misfortunes. At the close 
of this fearful war, when the sword should have been 
sheathed, behold Paris suddenly fired with fratricidal 
flames! Our monuments, our palaces, our libraries, our 
museums destroyed by French hands! Bands of savage 
beasts in human form, by the glare of the incendiary, 
pillaged and profaned her churches, shot her bishops, 
priests, magistrates, and soldiers; and on the heights 
bordering upon Mont Valerien, Vanves, Saint-Denis, 



Spread of Devotion to the Heart of Jesus. 337 

behold the long-sighted Prussians clapping their hands 
at seeing in flames the magnificent city that had resisted 
ail their assaults ! This is what history shall long con 
template, and, as in another Rome, recognize in it the 
finger of God. 

But soon from this scene of grandeur, already so 
tragical, it will rise to a spectacle still higher and more 
solemn. France, conquered, wounded, laid low on 
twenty battle-fields, will be secti to divide into two king 
doms : one frivolous and always full of self, seeking in 
political combinations, in recriminations and condemna 
tions, if not a remedy, at least a solace for her evils, and 
trying to prove that she is not guilty; the other, striking 
her breast, asks pardon, raises her eyes to heaven, and 
to be more sure of averting God s anger, instead of kiss 
ing His feet and bedewing them with tears, rises higher, 
even to His Heart. 

Admirable thing! This recourse to the Heart of 
Jesus, which in 1793 was spontaneously and as if in 
stinctively offered to the victims, is also presented in 
1870 to the vanquished. This thought that slept for 
sixty years in the heart of France, is awakened by the 
bloody glare of her simultaneous defeats at so many 
points, and with so little opposition ^that it is impossible 
not to see in it the hand of God. He is a good and 
tender Father who recalls to His sick child the thought 
of the grand remedy. 

The first fact that we are going to relate will alone 
suffice to show the merciful hand of God. Toward the 
close of 1870, at the time in which all our regular army 
was paralyzed or destroyed under the walls of Metz and 
Paris, bands of volunteers were seen to rise at the same 
time in a thousand places. They were called by differ 
ent names, and they bore different standards; but what 
of that ? The hour of exclusiveness was past. The 
appeal to voluntary sacrifice was general: and the Pon 
tifical Zouaves were the first to offer their swords to 



338 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

France. The Vendeans arose under Cathelineau; the 
Bretons organized as skirmishers; and, without prelimi 
nary or preamble, the various troops placed on their 
breasts the badge of the Heart of Jesus: those, because 
it was the emblem that Pius IX. had blest and given 
them at Mentana; and these, too, in memory of their 
fathers, Henri de la Rochejaquelein, Lescure, Bon- 
champs, Charette; and all in remembrance of the con 
soling and prophetic revelations of Paray. The sequel 
will show whether or not the Heart of Jesus on the sol 
dier s heart made him fight less valiantly. 

Some days after, on a cold night, December i, 1870, 
two superior officers turned their steps toward Paray, 
whither they were going to spend the next day in 
amusement before setting out from France. One was 
General de Sonis, commandant of the iyth corps of the 
army; the other, Colonel de Charette, who was at the head 
of the Zouaves. Both were deeply impressed with the 
gravity of the times through which they were passing, 
and the evident fact that, without the manifest assist 
ance of God, all was over with France. The cold was 
intense. It was impossible to proceed on horseback; 
therefore the General and the Colonel dismounted, and 
continued their journey on foot. Whilst walking along, 
the General expressed his regret to Colonel Charette at 
not seeing on his own banner an emblem more religiously 
characteristic. "General," replied the Colonel, "lean 
give you what you desire." Then he told the General 
that the same day on which he had received authoriza 
tion from the French Government to fight along with 
the Zouaves, on condition that they should take the title 
of " Western Volunteers," there had arrived from a dis 
tance a flag on which was painted the Sacred Heart. 
It had come under this address: "To the Defenders of 
the West." He learned later that the banner had been em 
broidered at Paray by the religious; that it was sent 
first to Paris and then to Tours, with the request that it 



Spread of Devotion to the Heart of Jesus. 339 

should appear on the battle-field. General de Sonis re 
garded it as an inspiration of God, and the banner of 
the Sacred Heart was immediately chosen as the laba- 
rum, the oriflamb, of the Zouaves. To prevent opposi 
tion, it was decided not to unfurl it until it could receive 
the baptism of fire; and that France should see it only 
when it would be, so to say, tinged with French blood. 
They felt sure that, after the battle, this banner, victori 
ous or conquered, would command such respect that no 
French army would allow it to pass without inclining to 
it their swords. 

The next day, December 2, 1870, first Friday of the 
month, a day consecrated to the Sacred Heart, Mass 
was celebrated at three o clock in the morning. Gen 
eral de Sonis, Colonel de Charette, the greater part of 
the officers, and a number of soldiers approached the 
holy table, to learn from the Heart of Jesus how to 
suffer, how to sacrifice themselves. The battle began 
at once, and, in spite of numerical disproportion, re 
mained undecided until half-past two in the afternoon. 
The enemies reinforcements continued to pour- in, and it 
was easy to foresee the moment in which, without some 
heroic and successful effort, the Zouaves would be 
obliged to retreat. General Sonis took his resolution. 
Gathering together a column for attack, he tried to 
hurl it upon the village de Loigny; but two of the regi 
ments threw themselves on the ground and refused to 
advance. At this juncture, the General hesitated no 
longer. Pressing forward with his Zouaves, he cried: 
" Gentlemen, behold the hour to show that you know 
how to conduct yourselves as Frenchmen and Chris 
tians ! Forward!" An enthusiastic cry was the only 
response. Sergeant Henri de Verthamon at the head 
of his battalion darted forward fifty steps, and displayed 
the standard of the Sacred Heart. All rushed after him 
with the cry: " Long live Pius IX.! Long live France !" 
A considerable distance had to be cleared under a fear- 



340 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

ful discharge of musketry. The Zouaves, without one 
shot, crossed bravely and in good order. Arrived in 
front of the little wood, they opened fire, presented 
bayonets, tore up the wood, gave chase to the Ger 
mans, reached the village, amid a cloud, not of incense, 
but of powder , and placed in position the banner of the 
Sacred Heart. 

The enemy, now perceiving the smallness of the num 
ber by which they had been routed, in surprise called 
forth their reserve. The masses ranged. After astonish 
ing the Prussians by their assault, they were now going 
to astonish them by their heroism Generals de Cha- 
rette, de Sonis, Troussures fell at the side of the banner 
of the Sacred Heart, become the target of all projectiles. 
De Verthamon, who held it, died purpling it with his 
blood. Count de Bouille instantly raised it again. He, 
too, was soon struck with death. He passed it to his 
son, Count James de Bouille, who, after bearing it aloft 
for some time, fell in his turn. Parment, who succeeded 
him, had his hand broken. He was, consequently, 
obliged to relinquish the sacred standard, now stained 
with blood and rent in several places, to Sergeant Lan- 
deau. Most of the Zouaves were conquered where they 
wished to die. They fell in the Heart of Jesus, and 
their death shed on the battle-field a ray of pure glory 
like unto that of the Crusades. 

Next day Orleans was taken, and the remnant of the 
Zouaves went to fee hacked to pieces at Manns, in order 
to cover the retreat of Chanzy. Five months later 
Paris surrendered, the war was over, and the Zouaves 
free. Before separating they wished to take leave of 
their banner, to offer it supreme ovation, and accomplish 
an action suggested by the events that had just tran 
spired. 

They met in a church at Rennes. There during the 
Holy Sacrifice, at the moment of holy Communion, the 
banner of the Sacred Heart was solemnly borne in and 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 341 

placed at the foot of the altar. General de Charette 
and his officers grouped around it. The almoner-in- 
chief, Mgr. Daniel, read on his knees an Act of Conse 
cration to the Sacred Heart, composed and sent by 
General Sonis, who was detained at a distance by his 
wound. After that General de Charette pronounced in 
a sonorous voice the following words: " Under the 
shadow of this flag stained with the blood of our dear 
est victims, I, General Baron de Charette, who had the 
signal honor of commanding you, consecrate the legion 
of the Western Volunteers, the Pontifical Zouaves, to 
the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and with my soldierly faith, 
I say with all my soul, and I ask you all to say with me: 
* Heart of Jesus, save France! A unanimous cry., 
spontaneous, awe-inspiring, responded : " Heart of Jesus, 
save France!" 

Thus ended this heroic episode of our sad war. It 
was only the second time since the oriflamb of the Cru 
sades that a religious flag had appeared on the battle 
field. The first had been carried by Joan of Arc ; the 
second by the Pontifical Zouaves. 

Whilst these things were passing on the battle-field, 
and in a manner so wonderful, though so little foreseen, 
the words of the Lord to Margaret Mary, "I desire 
that the image of My Heart be engraven on the French 
standard," were being accomplished, another word of 
the Lord was realized still more unexpectedly. In the 
midst of Paris, then occupied by the Prussians and 
isolated from the rest of France, some pious and emi 
nent laics were recounting their country s misfortunes 
and seeking for means to come to its assistance. Sud 
denly they were inspired to make a solemn vow to erect 
in the heart of Paris a church consecrated to the Heart 
of Jesus. The vow was drawn up in due form. In it 
are read these words: 

"In view of the misfortunes that are now afflicting 



342 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

France, and of the still greater evils that perhaps yet 
threaten her; 

" In view of the sacrilegious outrages committed in 
Rome against the rights of the Church, of the Holy See, 
and the sacred person of the Vicar of Jesus Christ; 

" To make honorable atonement for our sins, to receive 
pardon through the merciful intervention of the Sacred 
Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to obtain by this 
same intervention the extraordinary assistance that 
alone can deliver the Sovereign Pontiff from his cap 
tivity, put an end to the misfortunes of France, and 
lead to its social and religious restoration, 

" We promise, when these graces shall have been 
granted, to contribute according to our means to the 
erection in Paris of a church consecrated to the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus, permission for the erection of which 
will be asked of proper ecclesiastical authority." 

Did the signers of this act think of the revelations 
made to Blessed Margaret Mary ? No more, perhaps, 
than the Vendeans on the battle-field, or the " Western 
Volunteers "at Paray. But there was One that thought 
for them. 

The war ended, their vow was not forgotten. The 
first step of those that had taken it was to address 
themselves to the Archbishop of Paris, submit to him 
their project, and ask his blessing for its accomplish 
ment. The see of St. Denis was then occupied by Mgr. 
Guibert, successor of the illustrious victim of the Com 
mune, Mgr. Darboy. The prelate, in his piety and 
intelligence, understood the Christian grandeur of such 
conceptions; and not satisfied with granting the author 
ization asked of him, he determined to devote to its 
realization his authority, his exalted position, his influ 
ence, and his whole heart. He addressed, in conse 
quence, all the bishops of his diocese, and begged them 
to come to his aid. The work had already assumed, 
and as if of itself, large proportions. What was origin- 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 343 

ally to have been a chapel, or a small church (the result 
of an initiative movement on the part of a few) was now 
to become a national church, built with the funds, the 
concurrence, and the heart of all France. 

It remained to choose a suitable locality. When we 
glance at the map of Paris, we perceive on the north a 
mountain celebrated not only for the geological treas 
ures that it incloses in its depths; not only because, by 
its mysterious composition in the midst of the vast 
basin of the Seine, it is an inexplicable wonder 
yet to science; but celebrated, above all, because 
from remote ages it has always been a holy place, a 
sanctuary venerated and visited from afar. It is there 
that St. Denis, come to evangelize the Gauls, met their 
most famous idols and hurled them down; there, suc 
cumbing to the fury of the pagans, he consecrated and 
transfigured this mountain by the shedding of his blood; 
and there it was that, on the very spot of his sufferings, 
arose that illustrious church, built and rebuilt from age 
to age, consecrated in the thirteenth century by Inno 
cent III., and whither flock in pilgrimage all that Paris 
has ever possessed of eminent holiness and sanctity. 
It was there that St. Ignatius and his companions laid 
the foundation of the Society of Jesus. It is there that 
are met in the same faith and the same memories Car 
dinal de Berulle, M. Olier, Pere de Condren, Bossuet, 
St. Vincent de Paul. Montmartre is the holy place of 
Pans. The people, who best preserve the grand tradi 
tions of holy things, have never ceased to love and visit 
Montmartre. 

No position could, then, be better suited. Encour 
aged as the work progressed, they resolved to build on 
this mountain, whence it could look down upon all 
Paris, a temple which, by the immensity of its propor 
tions, the beauty of its sublime outlines, the splendor 
and richness of its ornaments, would be truly a nation 
al temple consecrated by all France to the Heart of 



344 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

Jesus. And in order to note well of what inspiration it 
was born, they agreed to engrave upon the portal the 
words: 

CHRISTO EJUSQUE SACRATISSIMO CORDI 
GALLIA PCENITENS ET DEVOTA. 

To realize so gigantic an enterprise, it was necessary 
to expropriate a certain number of houses built on the 
summit of the mountain. This brought the matter be 
fore the National Assembly that is to say, since France 
is a republic, before the sovereign. It was an occasion 
that the goodness of God offered France to accomplish 
what Louis XIV. had not done, but what Louis XVI., 
enlightened by misfortune, had promised God in prison. 
If the National Assembly allowed this providential oc 
casion to escape, it performed at least one important 
act, one that will be to its eternal honor. On the plea 
of public utility, it voted the expropriation; that is to 
say, it declared it to be a public utility that repentant 
France should erect a temple to the Sacred Heart. This 
church not having been asked for under the title of a 
parish church, nor exacted by the needs of worship, the 
vote of the Assembly could be interpreted only in this 
sense, as even the enemies of the project remarked. 
France herself understood it in this way; and the idea 
of a national church on the summit of Montmartre, an 
idea popular from the very outset, received new impulse. 
Subscriptions were opened in all the dioceses; commit 
tees were formed to excite and sustain zeal; and soon 
some intelligent and delicate initiative measures were 
begun. The army asked to build and ornament a chap 
el at its own expense. The working-men, also, offered 
shortly after to build one that should be consecrated to 
"Jesus as a Workman." The movement went on. 
Christian mothers desired to erect a church to St. Mon 
ica; the children would also consecrate one to the Child 
Jesus; the priests, one to " Jesus as Priest;" and bishops, 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 345 

to " Jesus as Pontiff." The virgins could not be forgotten 
by their Divine Spouse. And thus the temple built with 
the gold and silver of France shall ever be a monu 
ment of the sweetest inspirations of her piety and 
heart. But who will lay the first stone ? Above all, 
who will make the solemn consecration ? No one 
knows. Let us trust that God will descend among the 
workmen, and make Himself known by strokes most 
unexpected. 

He had said to Blessed Margaret Mary: "I desire 
that a temple be dedicated to My divine Heart." He 
will, then, assist in the building; and, as it is said of 
several of our old cathedrals that on the day of their 
consecration angelic voices were heard filling the air 
with sweetest songs, so we may believe that on this day 
there will descend upon kneeling France celestial words, 
words of love and pardon. 

It is in this temple will be made by the mouth of her 
sovereign, whoever he may be at the time, the conse 
cration of France to the divine Heart of Jesus. That 
day will be a great one in our history. The old alliance 
will be renewed, and God will again become the God of 
France. Can we credit the facts just narrated the 
banner of the Sacred Heart on our battle-fields, and 
the erection in Paris of a national church to the Heart 
of Jesus ? Can these two events, so extraordinary, be 
surpassed? Yes, and they will be. The month of June, 
1873, witnessed a fact which, whether we consider 
the time in which it occurred or the manner in which 
it was accomplished, the gigantic proportions with 
which it was clothed bear all the appearance of a mir 
acle. 

Shortly after the close of the war, the day after the 
horrors of the Commune, toward the autumn of 71 and 
during the year of 72, we felt an unusual breath pass 
over France. The celebrated sanctuaries were more fre 
quented; pilgrimages began, though timidly at first, 



346 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

like the distant prognostics that precede or foretell a 
storm. In 1873, Catholic France was agitated by an 
impulse it had not felt for over six centuries. National 
pilgrimages began to Lourdes, Salette, Chartres, Four- 
vieres, Pontmain, Puy, and France threw herself into 
them suppliantly. On one day Lourdes saw one hun 
dred thousand kneeling men gathered round her shrine. 
Then came the local pilgrimages. Each diocese had its 
own, and in it were sometimes seen thirty thousand pil 
grims. Had we the exact statistics of these pilgrim 
ages, we should indeed be astonished. 

Among them all, that of Paray holds a rank apart. It 
was estimated that one day would suffice for all the 
others; but that of Paray required a month. One fek 
that all France was coming. Marseilles, the city of the 
Sacred Heart, opened the march and arrived the first. 
It was followed every day by two, three, four, five dio 
ceses, each with its own banner. June 25th, Friday 
after the octave of Corpus Christi, they numbered 
twenty-five thousand men ! A month was not enough 
for the procession, which daily received new increase. 
The pilgrimage had to be prolonged until the end of 
July. Then, when the concourse of the French began 
to subside, English, Dutch, and Belgian pilgrims ar 
rived. They who could not yet come (not the Ameri 
cans, for they were coming), the Scots, the Poles, the 
Russians, sent their banners to represent them. The 
invisible Lover, until then hidden in the secret of the 
cloister, had been brought to light. He attracted all 
hearts. " Hundreds of banners, hearts, ex votos, letters 
were sent to us from all corners of France," wrote the 
religious of Paray. " All the parish churches, all the 
Communities, all the institutions of the capital, though 
ever so little religious, sent their souvenirs. ... It was 
an unheard-of assemblage. . . . We at first thought 
that we should be able to keep an account of the ex 
votos; but at the end of three days we found that to 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 347 

number them would be impossible. Our choir-grate 
was not large enough to hold them, for we found them 
everywhere. All these manifestations may be summed 
up in these words inscribed some thousand times on the 
ex votos: France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus ! / 1 

But it was not only its duration and the number that 
composed the pilgrimage that gave to it its miraculous 
character; it was the manner in which it was performed 
that rendered it truly surprising. The same was re 
marked everywhere. Such a movement was opposed to 
French habits, so opposed, in fact, that one asks him 
self how it could have taken place so spontaneously and 
unanimously. This is the plan they followed. The pil 
grims set out in procession from some church and went 
to the railway station. There they set up their banner, 
placed on their breast the picture of the Heart of Jesus, 
and, at the first sound of the whistle, began their chants. 

Almost every age, to express its sentiments or give 
soul to the emotions it has aroused, produces a popular 
chant or song. Who is the author? Whence did it 
come? Who put it one day, fiery or terrible, on the 
lips of the people? Neither the Greeks in the time of 
Tyrtaeus; nor our own ancestors, the old Gauls, in their 
forests; nor France at the epoch of her grandest crises, 
could say. No one has written it, but every one sings 
it. It springs from the soul of the people. In the same 
manner came forth the hymn that then resounded for 
the first time, ardent and sad, supplicating and tender, 
bathing in tears the sorrows of the Church of France, 
and uttering at each refrain a cry of hope and a cry for 
pardon. Very different from the savage clamors of the 
revolutionists, it appealed to the tenderness of Heaven 
and not to the anger of earth; instead of exciting souls 
to hatred, it appeased them by repentance. 

Giving our soul up to a sort of pious joy and recol- 

1 Circular letter of Paray upon the pilgrimage of the month of 
June, 1873. 



348 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

lection as if in a private chapel, we sang the whole 
length of the journey. When the train slackened its 
speed, the singing was heard to proceed from each car; 
and the sound, so unusual and so sweet, brought tears 
to the eyes. 

Sometimes it happened that two trains met at the same 
station. The pilgrims, taking their stand in the door 
way of their several cars, sang in choir. We shall never 
forget our emotion on a certain occasion of this kind. 
Our train had to stop at a station to let two special 
trains from Paris pass. One of them, speeding along 
like lightning, hurled at us this verse of the canticle: 

" Mercy, my God, for on a new Calvary 
The Head of Thy Church is groaning in tears!" 

In an instant we were on our feet with the spontane 
ous, unanimous cry: "Long live Pius IX.! Long live 
France!" 

The morning of the great feast, June 20, 1873, tne 
sun rose in splendor, and all the rest of the month the 
processions were not delayed a single day by rain. As 
was formerly said " the sun of Austerlitz," was now 
said "the sun of the Sacred Heart." 

As we neared Paray, the stations assumed an unusual 
appearance. Crowds of pilgrims were huddled around 
them long before the time: priests, religious, swarms of 
young girls dressed in white, gay as birds, and wearing 
on their breast the Heart of Jesus; vehicles of all kinds 
grand equipages, and common carts, laden and over 
laden with passengers, coming at triple speed, in their 
fear of losing a place which they foresaw would be dif 
ficult to find. In the midst of all this concourse of 
people reigned a calm and joyous serenity. Of these 
thousands of men, women, and young girls, all prepared 
to approach the holy table. They preserved, even in 
their eagerness, and notwithstanding the astonishment 
excited by so unusual a scene, the recollection which, 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 349 

in Christian homes, always precedes such an action. 
Spectacles such as these France does not see often 
enough. Her profoundly religious nature, her heart so 
sympathetic with all that is elevated and sincere, would 
find it hard to resist such influence. 

Nothing for many a day will equal in this respect 
June 20th at Paray. It was the Friday after the octave 
of the feast of Corpus Christi, the day of which the 
Lord had said to His humble lover: " / wish the Friday 
after the octave of Corpus Christi to be dedicated as a solemn 
feast in honor of My divine Heart" From midnight, 
Masses were being said on the altars everywhere im 
provised. They were not sufficient, despite their great 
numbers. This was the only regret of the day. There 
should have been a hundred altars more. In the Visita 
tion chapel, between the altar upon which our Lord ap 
peared and the grate behind which she knelt, reposed 
Blessed Margaret Mary. Her splendid casket had been 
raised on a throne surrounded with myriads of lights, 
and covered with hearts, crowns, petitions, ex votos of 
all sorts. At the head of the throne, like the banner of 
Joan of Arc, which, after having waved at the stake, was 
one day, to the honor of the country, to shade with its 
folds the altar of coronation, was seen the banner of the 
Zouaves, pierced by Prussian bullets and stained with 
blood. It was waving above the casket. The faithful 
kissed it in passing; mothers approached it with their 
little ones; and we saw soldiers touching it reverently 
with their naked swords. 

At nine o clock the procession began to move. It 
was no longer a brilliant triumphal march; it had be 
come official and liturgical like that we had admired in 
1865, at the time of the Beatification. There were, how 
ever, neither cardinals nor bishops 1 nor mitred abbots, 
for they were mingled with the people. The liturgical 
1 Except the titular bishop, and Mgr. de Marguerie, former bishop 
of Autun. 



350 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

chant had given place to one single canticle in French, 
which incessantly rose to all lips: 

" Save, save France, 

In the name of the Sacred Heart !" 

Shall we dare to say that this was not a procession of 
the Church ? It was a procession of France humbled, 
repentant, striking her breast, and crying: " Mercy, my 
God!" 

Each diocese ranged under its own banner, as did the 
various institutions, colleges, and Communities. There 
were over three hundred banners, each richer than its 
neighbor, each symbolical and eloquent, each displaying 
mottoes and legends and words that pierced the soul 
like a dart. The people applauded as they were borne 
along. Their enthusiastic cries of joy or of sorrow, 
mingling with the chants of those that formed the cor 
tege to the banners, produced an indefinable impression 
on the soul. 

An unexpected event happened at the very outset, 
which was well calculated to rouse and excite the mul 
titude. Some banners had already passed, wending 
their way toward a little hill that overlooked the town. 
There an altar had been erected for Mass in the open 
air. All at once, through a cross street, a group arrived 
a little late, and took its place in the cortege. It was 
the Alsatian banner, pure white, but enveloped in folds 
of crape. The cords were held on one side by a simple 
soldier, maimed and decorated, crape on his arm; on 
the other, by a noble lady in black and covered in a veil 
of the deepest mourning. On the banner we read: 

" Heart of Jesus, restore to us our country!" 

Who could gaze upon such a sight unmoved ? The 
procession paused, the songs ceased, and the Alsatians 
cried out: "Long live France!" And we replied: 
* Long live Alsace!" We embraced, we mingled our 
tears, Eight days after, the emotion of those that had 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 35 1 

witnessed this incident was still so lively that to speak 
of it brought tears to the eyes. 

Loud shouts were heard some moments after, and the 
excitement became great. It was caused by the ap 
proach of the banner of Metz, which was entirely black, 
as if to attest the deepest despair. Metz, the Virgin 
City, the thoroughly French city! Ah, the tears that 
flowed as its banner was borne along! How can we 
think that prayers so elevated, so heart-felt, can remain 
unheard by Him who has made nations curable? 

After that of Metz, the Parisian standard was most 
touching. Around it was grouped all that survived of 
the most ancient and illustrious of the French nobility. 
All those noble ladies wore the same costume, a black 
dress and veil. We mentally called them by name, and 
found among them the most famous of our history, 
those that were the glory and sometimes, alas! the 
peril of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. 
We said: " Tis the beginning of the reparation. After 
the expiation on the scaffold, this is much better: re 
pentance and recourse to the Sacred Heart." 

We were roused from these reflections by songs full 
of manly ardor. They proceeded from the Pontifical 
Zouaves. In a spirit of prudence, they had left the 
banner of Paray near the holy casket, and carried hither 
only a fac-simile of it. General Sonis held one of the 
cords, General Charette the other. All the officers fol 
lowed. One felt, whilst listening to their chants, some 
thing of the enthusiasm that had animated them when 
fighting at Loigny. A heart of stone would have 
thrilled at such a spectacle. Along the whole route 
we heard a thousand cries of " Long live Charette ! 
Long live Sonis ! Long live the Zouaves ! Long live 
France ! Long live Pius IX." Or rather, we heard only 
one cry, for all signified the same at heart. An unex 
pected incident crowned the emotion. In the evening 
the procession defiled to cross the convent garden. At 



352 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

the very moment that they were passing the little clump 
of hazel-trees under which the Lord had appeared to 
Margaret Mary and first explained to her the bloody 
mystery of the Cross, the Alsatian banner with its 
drapery of crape clung to a branch. Whilst an effort 
was being made to disengage it, a sudden blast of wind 
carried away the crape. The lookers-on trembled, and 
in all eyes glistened tears of joy and hope. 

We cannot forget you in this feast, noble banner of 
Orleans, which we had the happiness to bear to this pil 
grimage, as a messenger bears to sorrowing friends a 
word of consolation ! On a rich white ground ap 
peared a beautiful picture of Joan of Arc, her drawn 
sword above her heart, in the noble position, so humble 
and yet so resolute, given her by a royal princess. When 
the people perceived it, they pointed with their finger : 
"Joan of Arc ! Joan of Arc !" and the enthusiasm be 
came great. It was the resurrection of France that 
they hailed in this standard. 

Thus, at every step we made, the true character of the 
pilgrimage was proclaimed. We had under our eyes 
France mutilated and bleeding. We could not pray 
for self; we prayed for her. We forgot our own mis 
eries. We cried : " Save, save France, through Thy 
Sacred Heart !" To give its true character to this day, 
a last ceremony was to be performed. When the sun 
was setting, and the first shades of evening falling on 
the city, blessed tapers were lighted, and Paray saw 
pass through it a procession of from three to four thou 
sand men carrying flambeaux and singing the Miserere. 
The ceremony ended at the chapel, at the foot of the 
altar of the Sacred Heart, and before the shrine, by an 
Act of Reparation. Profound emotion filled every soul. 
The adorers pressed hands in silence, for hearts were 
overflowing. 

The great regret of the day, one felt by all, was that 
there was no deputation, no representatives of the Na- 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 353 

tional Assembly, at that moment the sovereign of 
France. They came nine days after, June 29th, the 
feast of St. Peter. But they were too few in number. 
One hundred and fifty, so said their banner, had given 
their names ; but all were not grouped around it. 

" SACRATISSIMO CORDE JESU 

E LEGATES AD NATIONALEM GALLIC CCETUM 
CL VOVERUNT." 

It was, however, a manifestation not less grand and 
touching. Arrived at the terminus, they put the Heart 
of Jesus on their breast, unfurled their standard, and, 
in the midst of the shouting crowd, reached the Visita 
tion chapel, where they received from the bishop s hand 
the God who loves the French. 

At this moment a voice arose in the name of all: ! 

" Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we come to consecrate 
to Thee ourselves and our colleagues united with us in 

sentiment. 

" We ask Thee to pardon the evil we have committed, 

and also all those that live separated from Thee. 

" Inasmuch as it is in our power, and as far as it be 
longs to us, we consecrate to Thee, with all the ardor of 
our soul, France, our well-beloved country, with all her 
provinces, her works of faith and charity. We ask Thee 
to reign over her by Thy all-powerful grace and holy 
love. And we ourselves, pilgrims of Thy Sacred Heart, 
adorers and partakers of Thy great Sacrament, most 
faithful disciples of the infallible See of St. Peter, whose 
feast we are happy to celebrate to-day, consecrate our 
selves to Thy service, O Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 
humbly asking of Thee the grace to belong entirely to 
Thee in this world and in eternity ! Amen !" 

Deep emotion filled every heart during the reading 
of this act. But it was not yet that consecration of 
France which the blessed Sister had demanded, which 
1 M. de Belcastel, Deputy of the Haute-Garonne, 



354 Life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

France alone can make, and which Almighty God ex 
acts. 

Such was the pilgrimage to Paray. To complete the 
picture, we ought to speak of its fruits, relate the out 
bursts of faith and piety, of grand simplicity, that 
recalled the best ages of the Church ; the crowd con 
tending for the least relic of the saint, even the leaves 
of the hazel-trees, even the earth and stones of the 
garden ; those nights passed in prayer before the 
shrine ; those Communions so numerous that the altars 
did not suffice for them, that the arms of the priests 
fell from fatigue, and the religious of Paray " no longer 
knew how to procure enough hosts for the multitude 
famishing for Jesus /" * 

Yes, the finger of God is here ! Who can deny it ? 
The Heart of Jesus is regenerating us. Since our fearful 
disasters, marked by a character of chastisement so 
pronounced ; since the horrors of the Commune, whose 
torch lighted with an ominous glare the abyss into 
which they were about to ingulf what remained of 
France ; since the blood of the hostages accepted by 
God in expiation, a new France has arisen. She it was 
that unfurled at Paray the standard of the Sacred 
Heart ; she it is who is about to construct at Paris the 
Church of the Sacred Heart; 2 she who during two 
months pressed around the foot of the altar upon which 
Jesus had said : "Behold the Heart that has so loved men /" 

The miracle is there, or it is nowhere. It is as sub 
lime as it was unexpected ; and the rapture of such a 
spectacle is all the more sweet as we have reason to 
think that it is only the beginning of future graces. 

1 Circular of Paray, November 6, 1873. 

2 This grand basilica is now an accomplished fact ; and in it hangs a 
bell, the joint offering of the Visitation houses from all parts of the 
world. It is, as its inscription tells, a " Monument of piety to the di 
vine Heart, to chant from the summit of the Holy Mountain, to the 
city, to the nation, to the whole world, the legend of the Visitation 
Order : VIVAT Hh JESUS I" Translator s note. 



The Second Part of Margaret s Mission. 355 

O Margaret Mary, Virgin of Paray, finish thy work ! 
Thou hast sown these beautiful seeds ; help them to 
ripen under the rays of the Sacred Heart. Extend thy 
aid to all souls that have not had our happy privilege. 
One day, in one of thy most private communications 
with Heaven, thou didst hear thy Lord saying to thee : 
" I shall make thee forever the heiress of all the treasures of 
My divine Heart" Enjoy them forever, O Virgin, but 
be not avaricious of them ! Share them with us ! 

And Thou, O Jesus, place Thy Heart on the heart of 
France ! Thou knowest of w r hat elements it is made. 
To be good, she must be loved. When enthusiasm 
sways her, she is sublime. O Divine Enchanter, capti 
vate her by Thy beauty ! Pierce her with darts so 
sharp that she may be forced to surrender. They were 
so grand, this people, when love held them suspended 
at Thy pierced hands and feet : what will they be when 
they rise to Thy Heart ! Then all our evils will be 
ended. We shall again behold that ancient France so 
loved by the Church, contemplated with a noble jealousy 
by all Europe ; whose sword, genius, and heart were at 
the service of every good cause; and which, finally, re 
leased from the fearful poison that consumes her, will, 
for the happiness of all, resume her rank at the head of 
the nations. 




NOTES AND DOCUMENTS. 



NOTE I. 
MARGARET MARY S BIRTHPLACE. 

A DOUBT has never been raised as to Margaret Mary s being 
born in the village of Verosvres. We add that we have never 
questioned the fact that in the hamlet of Lhautecour, of the 
village of Verosvres, on the patrimonial estate of the Alacoques, 
which exists to this day, Margaret Mary was born. We say, 
in fine, that if formerly the fact could have been questioned, it 
can never be so again, after the curious discoveries of which we 
are going to speak. 

It is true that contemporaries say in their Memoires that 
Margaret was born in Terreau. But it is easy to see that such 
an assertion springs only from a confused knowledge of places, 
as we shall explain. No souvenir, no popular tradition, no 
monument confirms the assertion ; on the contrary, everything 
contradicts it, and the most reliable witnesses, or rather all 
witnesses, without exception, absolutely deny it. 

We cite the chief: 

1. M. JEAN CHRYSOSTO.ME ALACOQUE, BLESSED MARGARET 
MARY S BROTHER, Royal Counsellor and Mayor of Bois-Sainte- 
Marie. In the process of 1715 he deposed: "I am the eldest 
brother of Venerable Margaret Mary Alacoque, whose honorary 
guardian I was for nearly ten or twelve years. She was born in 
the village of Lhautecour .parish of Vtrosvres" In his Memoire 
he says : " Margaret Mary Alacoque, daughter of the late M. 
Claude Alacoque, Judge of Terreau, la Roche, Corcheval, and 
Pressy, and of the late Lady Philiberte Lamyn, was born at 
Lhautecour, parish of Verosvres, in Charolais." There is noth 
ing more clear, nothing more tenable. 

2. M. CLAUDE ALACOQUE, FATHER OF MARGARET MARY. 
We have a number of deeds drawn up by him and signed with his 

357 



358 Notes and Documents. 

own hand. In them he assumes the following titles : In 1644 he 
styles himself " Royal Notary of the village of the Janots 
that is to say, of LJiautecour, of which the Janots formed a part ; 
1645, "Royal Notary, residing at Verosvres;" 1647, "Royal 
Notary;" 1649, " Royal Notary, residing at Lhautecour ;" 1651, 
"Royal Notary of Verosvres;" 1654, June 4, "Royal Notary, 
residing at Lhautecour;" 1654, July 25, " Royal Notary and 
Superintendent of Lands and Seigniory of Terreau." 

From these deeds and twenty others in our possession it is 
clear that M. Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary, dwelt at Veros 
vres ; and in Verosvres, at Lhautecour; and in Lhautecour, 
at the Janots, where the paternal homestead of the Alacoques 
still stands. There he dwelt in 1644, three years before Marga 
ret s birth ; there he still dwelt in 1654, seven years after that 
event. It was there, then, in her father s house, that she was 
born. Nowhere do we find question of Terreau, excepting 
July 25, 1654, in a deed made some days previously, June 4, 
1654, in which M. Claude Alacoque declares that he was resid 
ing at Lhautecour. This added to the brother s deposition 
affords sure evidence. 

3. MADAME ALOCOQUE, WIDOW,. MOTHER OF MARGARET 
MARY. We have the articles of a lease or renting of a farm, 
signed by her March 23, 1656, the year of her husband s death. 
In it we read th*ese words : " Appeared before the Royal Notary, 
Lady Philiberte Lamyn, widow of M. Claude Alacoque, /<?/< 
Royal Notary of Lhautecour, parish of Vtrosvres" This con 
firms the tradition that calls the house of Lhautecour the 
"cabinet house." Evidently M. Alacoque had at Terreau only 
his hall of audience. (See Note V, Articles of Leasing.) 

4. MGR. LANGUET, BISHOP OF SENS, Margaret Mary s first 
biographer. He says that she was born at Lhautecour, parish of 
Verosvres. What lends special force to his testimony is that he 
had in his hands the Memoire composed by Margaret s contem 
poraries for him. Now, although it was stated therein that 
Margaret Mary was born at Terreau, July 22, 1648, he wrote 
that she was born at Lhautecour, July 22, 1647, thus declar 
ing that, in his opinion, the contemporaries were deceived as 
to birthplace and date. 

5. THE SUPERIORESSES AND RELIGIOUS OF THE VISITATION 
heard at the Process of the Ordinary. With the exception of 
two, who stated that they had read in a manuscript that Mar- 



Notes and Documents. 359 

garet Mary was born at Terreau, all declared that she was bof n 
at Lhautecour. We cite, for example : 

Rev. Benoit Guilloux, priest and almoner of the Visitation, 
declared that he knew for certain that Margaret Mary was 
born in the parish of Verosvres, in the hamlet of Lhautecour. 

Mother Marie-Justine Granval, Superioress of the convent, 
deposed that the venerable Sister was from Lhautecour, parish 
of Verosvres. 

Mother Marie de Sales-Charrault said that the venerable 
Sister was born in the little village of Lhautecour, parish of 
Verosvres. 

Sister Louise-Benoite Gricourt said that in her childhood the 
venerable Sister resided at Lhaiitecour, her birthplace. 

Sister Marie-Felicite Gimelet deposed that the venerable 
Sister was born at Lhautecotir, etc. 

These testimonies, doubtless, are recent, and should possess 
only reasonable weight. They prove, at least, that the error of 
certain contemporaries was not able to establish a tradition to 
the same effect in the convent. 

6. The Postulator of the cause, MGR. FRANCOIS BARTHOL- 
ESCHI, in his resume addressed to the Pope, does not hesitate to 
affirm that Margaret Mary was born " in oppido quern mine up ant 
Lhautecour t paroeciae de Verosvres, intra fines Augustodunensis 
dioecests." And it has been definitively inscribed in the Bull of 
Beatification: "Hcec (venerabilisfamula Dei] in oppido cut nomen 
Lhautecour, intra fines dioecesis Augustodunensis, in Gallia 
or fa est." 

To all these authorities, they who pretend that Margaret 
Mary was born at Terreau can bring forward three arguments 
only, but their very weakness goes to prove our own truth. 

i. The testimony of contemporaries. 

But the testimony that they advance is without support. 
It emanates from two young religious who saw Margaret Mary 
only in her last years and in the cloister; who had no idea of 
the region in which her childhood was passed; who, besides, 
attached no great importance to geographical or chronological 
questions. " She came into the world," they said, " on the feast 
of St. Magdalen, July 22, 1648, at Terreau, and was baptized in 
the parish of Verosvres, a little dependency of Maconnais." 
Now, in this single statement there are three errors: i. She 
was not born in 1648, but in 1647 ; 2. Verosvres was never a 



360 Notes and Documents. 

dependency of Maconnais, but of Charolais. 3. She was not 
born at Terreau. Perhaps those Sisters had heard Margaret 
Mary say that her father was Judge of Terreau, at Terreau, 
and they concluded that she was born there. More probably 
they had before them the letters addressed in 1651 and 1556 to 
M. Alacoque, Judge of Terreau, and they imagined it was there 
he dwelt. Be this as it may, their testimony stands alone, in 
contradiction with all other documents, powerless to create a 
tradition in the convent, and consequently null and without 
foundation. 

2. The letters of 1651 and 1656 addressed to M. Alacoque. 

" In the Visitation archives of Paray are two letters addressed 
to M. Claude Alacoque in 1651, and several others of 1656 by 
persons of Charolles or of Cluny. All bear the same address 
To Monsieur Alacoque, Judge of Terreau, in Terreau. We 
can desire nothing more explicit." 

These letters, on the contrary, prove just nothing, and this 
for four reasons : 

First, Blessed Margaret Mary was born in 1647, and the first 
title brought forward to prove that her father lived at Terreau, 
and that, consequently, she was born there, is dated 1651, four 
years after her birth. 

Secondly, from writings of 1651 and 1656. 

"To M. Alacoque, Judge of Terreau, in Terreau." From these 
words some conclude that he lived in Terreau. But precisely 
between these two dates, as he himself declares, in 1654, he 
lived at Lhautecour : "Royal Notary residing at Lhautecour" 
(June 4, 1654). Very probably business letters were addressed 
to him there, and there, too, he had his judicial bench. This 
is proved by his always being addressed Judge of Terreau, in 
Terreau ; " never. " Royal Notary, in Terreau! Letters were 
addressed to him at Terreau as we would write, To N. N., the 
Justice of the Peace of Paray, at Paray, although he might pos 
sibly be residing three miles off; or, To N. N., Mayor of Ve- 
rosvres, at Verosvres, although he might be living in a neigh 
boring hamlet. Such things are usual, and it is absurd to 
conclude from the superscription of these letters that M. Ala 
coque dwelt at the place mentioned in their address ; above all, 
when we have the positive attestation to the contrary : "Royal 
Notary residing at Lhautecour." 

Thirdly, they should, besides, prove that in 1647, the year of 



Notes and Documents. 361 

Margaret s birth, M. Claude Alacoque was Judge of Terreau. 
This cannot be done, for it seems that he was not judge until 
a much later date. Indeed, in 1642 his son was held over the 
baptismal font by Lady Claudia d Apchon, wife of M. dii Ter 
reau ; in 1649 another of his children had likewise for god 
mother Lady Gilberte Arleloupe, Lady and Mistress of the 
seigniory of Terreau. If M. Claude Alacoque was then "Judge 
of the seigniory of Terreau, it would have been very proper for 
him to take that title in honor of those that had bestowed it 
upon him. But he did not do so. He signed simply "Royal 
Notary." It was only later that he added the title of Judge of 
Terreau. 

Fourthly, to push the question to its farthest limits : even if 
it were proved that he was Judge of Terreau in 1647, it would 
not advance an argument in support of the opinion that Mar 
garet was born at Terreau. In 1654 he was certainly Judge of 
Terreau, and he assumed that title. Now in this same year 
he declared that he was residing at Lhautecour. He was 
Royal Notary at Lhautecour, and resided there ; and he was 
Judge of Terreau, and had an audience-chamber there. This 
was M. Alacoque s true position. 

3. What is there still to object ? A duplicate apothecary s bill 
dated some weeks after the death of M. Alacoque. One is made 
out thus : " For Mine. Alacoque, Widow, Mother, at Lhau 
tecour " the other, " For Mine. Widow Alacoque of Terreau, at 
Lhautecour :" But what does that prove? To distinguish the 
mother-in-law from the daughter, both widows and both of 
the same name, they called the second Mute. Alacoque of Ter 
reau that is to say, widow of him who was Judge of Terreau. 
This does not, however, determine her place of residence. The 
bill in question even proves in our favor, and recalls the depo 
sition of Chrysostome Alacoque : " Margaret Mary, daughter 
of the late M. Claude Alacoque, Judge of Terreau, was born at 
Lhautecour." 

4. To support this erroneous statement, and to make it 
agree with the primitive documents, its defenders have pre 
tended that Margaret Mary s father had a chapel at Terreau, 
in which the Blessed Sacrament was kept, and a chaplain 
(M. Basset), as is seen from a public deed of 1656. Still more 
to mislead the piety of pilgrims, they added that it was there 
were begun the precious and touching manifestations of Mar- 



362 Notes and Documents. 

garet s love to the Holy Eucharist. All this is a gross error. 
The chapel of Terreau of which they speak did exist, but it 
was not in the castle. If they had studied one of the nearest 
monuments, they would have seen that it was in the church of 
Verosvres. It was a seigniorial chapel, in which the lords of 
Terreau assisted at Mass, and were even buried. There are a 
thousand proofs of this. Behold the following: 

" Mme. Despres died April 26, 1669, and was interred on the 
27th of the present month /// the chapel of Terreau, which is in 
the church of Verosvres" Signed, " Ant. Alacoque, cure of 
Verosvres." 

Again: "Monsieur de Thulon, deceased February 12, 1665, 
and buried in the chapel of Terreault, which is in the church of 
Verosvres" Signed, " Antoine Alacoque." 

Again : " Loys Girardin, February 2, 1649, feast of Our Lady s 
Purification, was interred in the church of Verosvres, which 
adjoins the chapel of Terreault" (See also the Mortuary Acts of 
August 30, 1652, and of July 26, 1653.) 

This chapel of Terreau was, therefore, not in the castle, 
which still exists entire, and in which there is not the trace of 
a chapel. It was in the church. It was the seigniorial chapel, 
and in it the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. It is frequently 
mentioned in the public acts. 

It is proved, then, by incontestable documents of the great 
est weight, and to which no solid objection can be opposed, 
that M. Claude Alacoque never d \velt at Terreau ; that he had 
there only his judicial seat, whither he went on court days to 
administer justice. This explains certain letters addressed to 
him there. It proves, moreover, that he lived, at a distance of 
twenty minutes or less, in another hamlet of the same parish, 
called Lhautecour; or, to speak more exactly, in one of a little 
group of houses called the Janots, which constituted a part of 
Lhautecour and was separated from it only by a path ; that he 
dwelt in his patrimonial house, still in existence; that he cer 
tainly lived there in 1644 and in 1654; and that it was there 
the saint was born. These facts are gleaned from all the 
records, excepting the Memoir e des Contemporaines, the errors 
of which are easily proved. 



Notes and Documents. 363 

NOTE II. 

NOTES UPON THE ALACOQUE FAMILY OF AUDOUR, TAKEN 
FROM THE INVENTORY OF THE ARCHIVES OF THE CHA 
TEAU D AUDOUR, PARISH OF DOMPIERRE-LES-ORMES, 
DIOCESE OF AUTUN. 

I. June 24, 1470. Sold to the Hon. Guillaume de Fautriere, 
lord of Audour, by Jean Fabry and Beniote Alacoque, of Audour, 
bis wife, their right as well in Combe-de-la- Rate, situated at 
Audour and sold by Jean Alacoque, as in their houses and 
goods, movable and immovable, situated in the aforementioned 
Audour. 

II. March 30, 1481. Land of Jean Alacoque, situated at Au 
dour, and joining on the south the Verchere-du-Pont, sold by 
Jean Camy, of Audour, to Squire Jean Bulay, Notary of Dom- 
pierre. 

III. 1478. Land of Vincent Alacoque, situated at the bound 
ary of Audour, parish of Dompierre. 

IV. February 6, 1481. Transfer by the Hon. Matthieu and 
Philibert de Fautriere, brothers and lords of Audour, to Jean 
Alacoque and Lout s Alacoque, his nephew, a house located at 
Audour and adjoining the garden of the said /irarc Alacoque, by 
him acquired from Guillaume Camy, by means of the annual 
rent of one farthing and one hen, payable at said place of Au 
dour. 

V. 1481. Houses and field of Vincent Alacoque and of his 
brothers, situated at Audour and adjoining a property and field 
sold by Moreau Vagier to Squire Jean Bulay, Notary at Dom 
pierre. 

VI. December 4, 1482. Land and field of Benoit Alacoque, 
situated at Audour and adjoining a field and property sold by 
Vincent Marcaulx to Squire Jean Bulay, Notary at Dompierre. 

VII. May 13, 1483. Agreement between Benoit Debrus, 
Hugonin Debrus, de Poisolles, and Benoit Alacoque, Guy ot Ala 
coque, brothers, of Audour, on the heath and property of the 
field Mouillon, to divide, share, and inclose by boundaries ac 
cording to their respective right. 

VIII. January 25, 1484. Dwelling-house and field of Guyot 
Alacoque and partners, of the- place of Audour, adjoining a 
manor and property sold by Hugues and Guillaume Vaulgier, 
of Audour, to Squire Jean Bulay, Notary of Dompierre. 



Notes and Documents. 

IX. April 23, 1484. Land of Guyot Alacoque and Hugues 
Alacoque, situated at Audour and adjoining the land called Du- 
poy, sold by Pierre Camy, of Audour, to Squire Jean Bulay, 
Notary at Dompierre. 

X. 1488. The name of Guyot Alacoque is mentioned in a 
deed bearing date of the year 1488. 

XI. January, 1511. Transferred by Antoine Alacoque and 
John Alacoque to the Hon. Matthieu de Fautriere, Lord of Au 
dour, their rights and share in lands situated on the boundary 
of Audour. 

XII. March 3, 1513. Bought of Benoit Aumonier, by Louis 
Alacoque and Jean Delagrange, part of a house, with its con 
veniences, situated at Audour. 

XIII. May 13, 1513. Field of Louis Alacoque and associates, 
adjoining the large meadow situated at Audour, and sold by 
Benoit Deboisdulin to the Lady Marie de Vaulx, widow of Jean 
Nagu, Lord of Faulin. 

XIV. February 15, 1516. Property of Louis Alacoque, situ 
ated at Audour and adjoining the property called Mardier, also 
situated at Audour, and sold by Benoit and Claude Deboisdu 
lin to Squire Philibert Bulay, Notary of Dompierre. 

XV. June 8, 1518. Transferred by Louis Alacoque, Jean Ala 
coque, and Benoit Alacoque, of Audour, to Jean Remillet and 
partners, a house, barn, and stable situated at said Audour. 

XVI. November 9, 1518. Transferred to Guillaume Remillet, 
by Louis Alacoque and Jean Alacoque, and again by Philibert 
Alacoque, Guillaume Alacoque, and Damiyennay Alacoque, mard 
Alacoque, sons and heirs of Benoit Alacoque, of the maix of the 
Alacoque, situated at Audour, the Verchere-de-la-Fontaine, of 
the land Girard, and the field of the Combes, all adjoining the 
land of Alacoque Quod dinno. 

XVII. January 7, 1519. Sold by Claude Deboisdulin, \.o Jean 
Alacoque, one half of the meadow of Rate and of Lytres, situ 
ated on the boundary of Audour. 

XVIII. January i, 1520. House ol Jean Alacoque and Louis 
Alacoque, located at Audour and adjoining the property of 
Combes, sold by Claude Deboisdulin to Squire Philibert Bulay. 
Notary at Dompierre. 

XIX. August 21, 1550. Purchased by Jean Alacoque, from 
Benoit Alacoque and Claude Alacoque, his son, part of the field 
at the Rate and the Lytres, situated at the terminus of Audour 



Notes and Doc^lments. 365 

XX. October 2, 1523. Orchard of Jean Alacoque and Louis 
Alacoque, adjoining a house situated at the terminus of Audour, 
and sold by PhiHbert de Nagu, Lord of Faulin, to Squire Phili- 
bert Bulay, Notary at Dompierre. 

XXI. February 24, 1526. Agreement between Squire Phili- 
bert Bulay, Notary at Dompierre, and Jean Alacoque, Claude 
Alacoque, Louis Alacoque, Philibert Alacoque, Guillaume Ala 
coque, Emard Alacoque, boarders and residents at Audour, on 
the highlands of la Toule, and adjoining the land of the heirs 
of Guyot Alacoque. 

XXII. January 21, 1528. Land and orchard of Louis Ala 
coque and land of Joseph Alacoque, along with various immovables, 
sold by Guillaume and Hugues Remillet, of Audour, to Squire 
PhiHbert Bulay, Notary of Dompierre. 

XXIII. November 30, 1528. Agreement between Louis Ala 
coque and Philibert Deboisdulin on a property called the 
Seigne sous-la-Maison Alacoque, one third of which has been 
assigned to Philibert Deboisdulin, and the surplus to Louis 
Alacoque. 

XXIV. June i, 1529. Field adjoining the field of la Fayette, 
situated at Audour, and sold by Guyot Vaugier to Philibert 
Bulay, Notary at Dompierre, and land of the Alacoque heirs 
adjoining the Quadran field. 

XXV. March 30, 1543. Exchange between Guillaume Ala 
coque, Philibert Alacoque, and the Hon. Philibert de Fautriere, 
Lord of Audour, of the verchere of Laval, opposite the land 
also called of Laval, and a piece of orchard again called of La 
val, all subject to the cure of Dompierre. 

XXVI. March 4, 1 544. Sold to M. Guy Bulay, priest of Dom 
pierre and prior of Drompvent, parish of Verosvres, by Philibert 
Alacoque, a field inseparable from that of Guillaume Alacoque, 
and adjoining the field of Antoine Alacoque, who owns several 
others in the centre of Audour. 

XXVII. December 26, 1544. Bought by Philibert Alacoque, 
of Jean Dalmon, a field called the Closeaux, or Couzeaux, and 
situated at Frouges, parish of Dompierre. 

XXVIII. November, 1545. Agreement between Jean Ala 
coque, Guillaume Alacoque, Antoine Alacoque, Philibert Alacoque, 
all of Audour, and Lord Gaspard de Fautriere, Lord of Audour, 
relative to the water which overflowed from the canal of spid 
Alacoque to the detriment of the mill of the Lord of Audou^ 



366 Notes and Documents. 

XXIX. November 30, 1545. Rented by Phillbert de Nagu, 
Lord of Frouges, to Philibert Alacoque and Guillaume Alacoque 
a house 29 x 27 ft., situated at Frouges, for the annual rent of 
. . . farthings, a hen, and a measure of rye. 

XXX. March 17, 1548. Receipt of Guy Bulay to Philibert 
Alacoque and to Guillaume Alacoque, his son. 

XXXI. August 17, 1548. Deed mentioning Guillaume Ala 
coque t son of Jean Alacoque. 

XXXII. 1556. Exchange between Guillaume Alacoque, Jean 
Alacoque, his son, of Audour, Philibert Noly, of Commergon, 
parish of Dompierre, half of the field of Lousaigne, opposite the 
field Laugere, below the pond of Pejannin, and joint third of 
the Combe-du-Perrier. 

XXXIII. March 29, 1559. Sold by Guillaume Alacoque and 
Jean Alacoque, his son, of Audour, to Marie de Lacour, Lady of 
Audour, two stables, with conveniences and stream, situated at 
said Audour. 

XXXIV. November 13, 1559. Sold by Guillaume Alacoque 
and Jean Alacoque, his son, of Audour, to Marie de Lacour, 
Lady of Audour, a property called Fourcher, at Audour, under 
trie-service of the parish of Dompierre. 

XXXV. October 20, 1 562. Sold to Jean de Poncerd, of Dom 
pierre, a part of the Alacoque mill, situated at Audour, of which 
to the said Jean Poncerd, 7 to Marc Alacoque, and f to Phili- 
brt Alacoque , representative of Claude Bonnetain, and joining 
the field of Philibert Alacoque the elder, and of Guillaume Ala 
coque. 

XXXVI. April, 1574. Sold to Guillaume Alacoque, of Audour, 
by Benoit Grandjean and Benoit Marot, of Commergon, a 
field situated at said Commergon, called the Seigne-du-Rus, 
for four cartloads of hay. 

XXXVII. May 20, 1575. Sold to Philibert Alacoque and 
Claude ^Alacoque, of Audour, by Louis Grandjean and Benoit 
Marot, of Commergon, the land and field opposite the Motte, 
at said Commergon. 

XXXVIII. April 6, 1577. Contract to lease by Louis Grand 
jean and Benoit Marechal, of Commergon, to Guillaume Ala 
coque, of Audour, a field situated at Commergon, and called 
the Seign-des-Vercheres, for four wagon-loads of hay. 

XXXIX. Verdict for Philibert Alacoque against the attorney- 



Notes and Documents. 367 

general of the office of the manor of Frouges, parish of Dom- 
pierre. 

XL. March 30, 1581. Sold by Guillaume Alacoque and Claude 
Alacoque, brothers, of Audour, to Lord Philibert de Fautrieres, 
Lord of Audour, the field de Rus, of the field and land of 
Montel, all situated at Commergon. 

XLI. November 30, 1581. Shared between Claude Alacoque, 
Guillaume Alacoque, Vincent Alacoque, his son, the estate that 
afterward belonged to Jean Robin, of Audour. 

XLII. April 30, 1585. Purchased by Guillaume Alacoque, of 
Audour, from Philibert Dalmon, of Frouges, a field situated 
at Frouges, and called field of the Bots and field Lye. 

XLIII. November 6, 1594. Divided between Philibert 
de Foutrieres, Lord of Audour, Etienne Desbot, Philibert 
de Poncerd, Lord of Lafay, parish of Dompierre, on the one 
side, and Guillaume Alacoque, Claude Alacoque, Squire Vincent 
Alacoque, Jean Alacoque, Benoit Delaroche, Marc Alacoque, all 
inhabitants of the village of Audour, on the other, of the wood 
de la Fuyolle and of the Ravieres, situated at the limits of said 
Audour, and of which has been assigned to the said Alacoques 
and Delaroche in their quality of sub-tenants and owners of the 
maix Alacoque. 

XLIV. May 17, 1598. Distribution of the war contributiot 
reduced to writing by Squire Vincent Alacoque, Notar" 
Audour and figuring as tax-payer. 

XLV. 1642-1652. Louis Alacoque, Royal Notary of Audoar, 
husband of Frangoise Desbot, as mentioned ir. se/eral deeds oi 
1642-1652. 

XLVI. January 17, 1643. Divided between Benoit Alacoque, 
of Dompierre, and Benoit Depas, also of Dompierre, of the 
heirs of Guillaume Charnus, late husbandman of said Dom 
pierre. 

KLVII. 1652. A deed of 1652 mentio is a copse, or under 
wood, situated on the confine? of Audour and belonging to 
Jean Alacoque. 

XLVIII. May n, 1658. Rented by the Lord of Lafay to 
Pierre de Lapierre and Etienette Alacoque, his wife, of Audour, 
a lot of ground situated near the market-place of Audour, for 
the annual rent of one measure of rye. 

XLIX. June 2, 1658. Deed mentioning a field of the deceased 
heirs of Squire Louis Alacoque, on the confines of Audour. 



368 Notes and Documents. 

L. Divided between Saladin of Fontelle, Lord of Lafay, 
parish of Dompierre, and Jeanne Alacoque, noble widow of 
Claude Philippe, Jean Dussange, his son-in-law, both of 
Sertines, parish of Verosvres, of the woods of Vaudemard, one 
of which, yielding five bushels of grain, has been marked down 
to the said Alacoque Dussange. 

LI. December i, 1675. Receipt of M. de Dompierre to 
Benoit Colas for the income of the property by him acquired 
of Guillaume Alacoque and the movables of the seigniory of 
Dompierre. 

LII. May I, 1676. Sold to Jean Bonnetain, of Dompierre, 
by Hippolyte Alacoque, of Boisdulin, parish of said Dompierre, 
and Philiberte Dupaquier, his wife, of their land of Pezanin, 
for nearly nine bushels of grain, accruing to the heirs of Jean 
Dupaquier, deceased, and sold again, June 23, 1678, to M. 
Claude Hippolyte de Damon, Lord of Dompierre. 

Substantially correct and certified by us, cure of Dompierre- 
les-Ormes, undersigned. 

JEAN-LOUIS MAMESSIER. 

DOMPIERRE, September 20, 1873. 



NOTE III. 

GENEALOGY OF BLESSED MARGARET MARY, TAKEN FROM 
THE ARCHIVES OF THE CHATEAU D AUDOUR, PARISH OF 
DOMPIERRE-LES-ORMES, DIOCESE D AUTUN. 

N. Alacoque. 

N. Alacoque, of the hamlet of Auclour, parish of Dom- 
pierre-les Ormes, diocese of Autun, was certainly a relative of 
Benoite Alacoque, wife of Jean Fabry, of Audour, who, according 
to an official act found in the archives of the chateau of Au 
dour, dated January 24, 1470, sold conjointly with her husband 
to the noble Philibert de Fautriere, Lord of Audour, their right 
in the Combe-de-la-Rate, situated at Audour, and sold by Jean 
Alacoque with other property, movable and immovable, situated 
at Audour. Jean Fabry was probably a relative of Hugues 
Fabry, Abbe of Cluny in 1347, or of Andre Fabry, who in 1520 
was cure of Curtil-sous-Buffieres, now a little parish under the 
jurisdiction of the archpriest of Cluny, but formerly an advan 
tageous and considerable benefice. 



Notes and Documents. 369 

IV. Alacoque was certainly the father of Jean Alacoque above- 
named, and mentioned a^in in two transactions of 1481, in an 
other of 1511, in two of 1518, in one of 1519, in two of 1520, and 
in others of 1523, 29, and 45, in which he figures, with his 
brothers and other relatives, as seller, or buyer, or co-proprietor 
of houses, fields, and land on the confines of Audour. Finally, 
a paper of August 17, 1548, cites him as the father of Guillaume 
Alacoque. 

N. Alacoque was also father of Vincent Alacoque, who is men 
tioned in a deed of 1478 as owner of a property situated at 
Audour, and in another of 1481 as joint owner with his 
brothers of a field and houses on the confines of said Audour. 
Louis Alacoque, in a deed of 1481 denominated nephew of Jean 
Alacoque, and who \vas probably son and heir of Vincent Ala 
coque, is named in deeds of March 3 and May 13, I5 f 3. in an 
other bearing date of 1516, in two of 18, in others of 20, 23, 
and 26, and in two of 28, as co-owner, purchaser, or seller of 
several houses and other property at Audour. 

Again, N. Alacoque was father of Guyot Alacoque, mentioned 
in a deed of 1483, and in two of 84, as proprietor with his 
brothers of a dwelling-house, fields, and lands on the confines 
of Audour. 

N. Alacoque was, in fine, father of 

Benott Alacoque. 

A deed of 1482, another of 83, two of 1518 and of 20, desig 
nate him co-proprietor and co-partner with his brothers and 
other relatives in the grant of several fields, lands, and houses 
on the confines of Audour. 

First: He was father of Philibert Alacoque, as is stated in a 
deed of November 9, 1518, containing the sale of the maix of 
the Alacoques, at Audour, and of several other landed estates. 
In some deeds of 1526 and 43, some of 44, two others of 45, 
and one of 62, in whicli he is called Philibert Alacoque, senior, 
he is mentioned as transferred barterer, or exchanger, pur 
chaser, etc., conjointly with his brothers, of a number of estates 
at Audour and at Frouges, parish of Dompierre. 

He was the father of Guillaume Alacoque, as is evident from 
the deed of November 9, 1518. Some deeds of 1526, 42, 44, 
two of 45, and one of 62, enumerate the fields, lands, and 
buildings of which he was owner, seller, purchaser, barterer, 
etc., with his brothers. 



3 Jo Notes and Documents. 

He was, besides, father of mard Alacoque, as is certain from 
the aforesaid deed of November 9,^1518. There is, moreover, 
mention made of him in an agreement dated February 24, 
1526, concerning some lands on the highlands of Toule, between 
him, his brothers, and Squire Philibert Bulay, Notary of Dom- 
pierre and founder of an annual and perpetual alms of eighty 
measures of rye to be distributed by Mme. the Countess de 
Marcellus, owner of the chateau of Audour. 

Lastly, he was father of Damiyennay Alacoque, as is plain 
from the will already cited of November 9, 1518. He is prob 
ably the same as Claude Alacoque, also styled son of Benoit 
Alacoque, in a deed of August 21, 1520, containing the sale of 
a part of the fields at the Rate, and of the properties situated 
on the confines of Audour, to the profit of Jean Alacoqiie above 
named. The deed of November 9, 1518, makes mention in 
three places of another Alacoque Quod dinno. This appellation 
is, perhaps, patois or a term of derision. It is certain that 
Guillaume Alacoque, or one of his three brothers above men 
tioned, was the father of 

Philibert Alacoque. 

He is mentioned (i) in a law receipt of March 17, 1548, 
handed him by Guy Bulay, resident priest of Dompierre and 
prior of Drompvent, parish of Verosvres ; (2) in a deed of 
October 20, 1562, containing sale to M.Jean de Poncerd, of 
Dompierre, of a part of the Alacoque mill, at Audour, and of 
which f belonged to Philibert Alacoque, representative of 
Claude Bonnetain ; (3) in two deeds of the years 1575 and 
79, bearing sale and verdict to his property. 

He was father of (i) Guillaume Alacoque, and it is said in the 
receipt drawn up March 17, 1548, that Guillaume Alacoque had 
two sons, namely, Squire Vincent Alacoque, Royal Notary at 
Audour from 1594-1627, as is proved by the deeds of November 
30, 1581, November 6, 1594, and by several others which men 
tion him, as well as Louis Alacoque, probably his son, also 
Royal Notary of said Audour from 1642 to 1652; (2) Jean 
Alacoque, as is attested by the deeds of 1556, those of the 29th 
of March and 131!! of November, 1559, and those of November 
6, 1594, in which he is spoken of as Guillaume Alacoque and 
Jean ^lacoque, his son, both of Audour, He was father of 



Notes and Documents. 371 

Claude Alacoque. 

That Claude Alacoque was the son of Philibert Alacoque is 
proved by the fact that, on the one side, a deed of March 30, 
1581, affirms that Claude Alacoque is brother of Guillaume Ala 
coque, and that, on the other, the deed of March 17, 1548, states 
that Guillaume Alacoque is son of Philibert Alacoque. A deed 
of November 30, 1581, states the division of several properties sit 
uated at Audour between Claude Alacoque, on the one side, and 
Guillaume Alacoque and Vincent Alacoque, his son, on the other. 
Finally, a deed of November 6, 1594, contains also the division 
between the Hon. Philibert de Fautriere, Lord of Audour, 
Etienne Desbort, Philibert Poncerd, Lord of Lafay, parish of 
Dompierre-les-Ormes, on the one side, and Guillaume Alacoque, 
Claude Alacoque, Vincent Alacoque, Jean Alacoque, Benoit de 
Laroche, and Marc Alacoque, all inhabitants of the village of 
Audour. on the other side, of some woods called the Lafayalle 
and of the Ravieres, on the confines of said Audour, and of 
which -J- was ascribed to the said Alacoques and de Laroche, in 
their quality of holders and possessors of the maix Alacoque, 
at Audour. 

Claude Alacoque is, if not certainly, at least very probably, the 
same as Claude Alacoque the grandfather of Blessed Margaret 
Mary Alacoque. This we may judge from the similarity of the 
baptismal names of the family, or from the coincidence of the 
years. We have another proof of this, and that is that from 
the year 1594 we no longer find in the archives of the castle of 
Audour the name of Claude Alacoque, whilst we see figuring 
there that of the other Alacoques, notably in a role of assess 
ment of war contributions of May 17, 1598, which mentions 
only Vincent Alacoque as Royal Notary of Audour and tax 
payer. 

RESUME. 

YEAR. 

1470 N. Alacoque, father of 

1470-1545 ( Jean Alacoque, father of Gu ; llaume Alacoque. 
1478-1481 -< Vincent Alacoque, probably father of Ls. Alacoque. 
1482-1520 ( Guyot Alacoque. 
1482-1484 Benoit Alacoque, father of 
1518-1545 r Philibert Alacoque. ") 

1518-1562 I Guillaume Alacoque. One of ^ four Alaco ^ es - 

1518-15*6 1 Emard Alacoque. f probably Guillaume Alacoque, 

1518-1520 I Damiyennay Alacoque. j was father of 



37 2 Notes and Dociiments. 

1548-1579 Philibert Alacoque, father of 

1548-1594 fGuillaume Alacoque, father of Vincent Alacoque, notary, 

and of Jean Alacoque. 

1582-1594-^ Claude Alacoque, husband of Jeanne Laroche, father anc? 
mother of Claude Alacoque, born in 1615 and father of 
Blessed Margaret Mary. 
Certified as substantially true by us, cure of Dompierre-les- 
Ormes, subscribed September 20. 1873. 

JEAN Louis MAMESSIER. 



NOTE IV. 

BAPTISMAL REGISTER OF THE REL/VT-ONS OF BLESSED MAR 
GARET MARY. 

i. 

Baptismal Record of her Father. 

"Claude, son of Claude Alacoque and Jeanne Delaroche, ol 
Lhautecour, was baptized March 28, 1615. His godfathers were 
Claude [name illegible], parish of Saint- Bonnet-de-Joux, and 
Jean Bernard; and his godmothers, Claude, wife of Denis- Ala 
coque ; Benoite, wife of Claude Bernard ; Benoite, wife of 
Claude Delaroche, [an illegible name follows,] and was baptized 
by me, cure of Verosvres, the aforementioned day and year. 

" Signed : 

" JEAN ALACOQUE." 
n. 

Baptismal Record of Benoite Alacoque, Aunt of Margaret Mary. 
" Beniote, daughter of Claude Alacoque and Jeanne Delaroche, 
was baptized September 20, 1619, and had for godfathers Phili 
bert de la Salle and Matthicu de la Salle. Her godmothers 
were Benoite, wife of Jean [name illegible]; Claude, wife of 
Denis Alacoque, [two illegible names follow,] and was baptized 
by me, cure of Verosvres, the aforementioned day and year. 

" Signed : 

" JEAN ALACOQUE." 
HI. 

Baptismal Record of another Aunt of Margaret Mary. 
" Dimanche, daughter of Claude Alacoque and Jeanne" Dela 
roche, was baptized on Sunday, December 18, 1622, and had 
for godfathers Andre Alacoque, Jean Ducerf, and Matthieu 



Notes and Documents. 373 

de la Salle [or Valle]; and her godmothers were Jeanne, wife 
of Guillaume [name illegible]; Claude, wife of Denis Alacoque; 
[here follow some names not decipherable,] and was baptized 
by me, the cure of Verosvres. 

" Signed : 

" JEAN ALACOQUE." 

IV. 

Baptismal Record of Jean Alacoque, Brother of Blessed Mar 
garet Mary. 

"Jean, son of Squire Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary, and of 
Lady Philiberte Lamyn, was baptized by me, the undersigned, 
June 9, 1640. His godfather was M. Jean Alacoque, priest of 
Verosvres; and his godmother, Benoite Melin. 
" Signed : 

" ANTOINE ALACOQUE." 
v. 
Baptismal Record of Claude Philibert Alacoque, Second Brother 

of Blessed Margaret Mary. 

"The undersigned priest, cure of Verosvres, baptized a son 
of Squire Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary of this place, and 
Philiberte Lamyn. His godparents are Lady Claudia Couronne 
d Apchon, wife of M. du Terreau, and Squire Philibert Lamyn, 
Royal Notary of Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux, who gave him the names 
of Claude Philibert. 

" Given in the church of Verosvres, this 27th day of June, 1642. 
" Signed : 

" COURONNE D APCHON." 
"ANTOINE ALACOQUE." 

"LAMYN PH." 
VI. 
Baptismal Record of Catherine Alacoque, Sister of Margaret 

Alary. 

Catherine, daughter of Squire Claude Alacoque, Royal 
Notary, and of Philibert Lamyn, was baptized by me, the under 
signed, pastor of Verosvres, February 27, 1644. Her godfather 
was Squire Nicholas de Lapraye, apothecary, residing at Cha- 
rolles; and her godmother, Catherine Alacoque. 

" The Lord of Lapraye, in testimony of which, here subscribes 
himself. " Signed : 

" DE LAPRAYE." " ANTOINE ALACOQUE." 



3 74 Notes and Documents. 



VII. 

Baptismal Record of Chrysostome Alacoque, Brother of Margaret 

Mary. 

" Chrysostome, son of M. Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary, 
resident at Verosvres, and of Philiberte Lamyn, was baptized 
by me, the undersigned, pastor of Verosvres, this Sunday, May 
6, 1645. His godfather was Squire Chrysostome Dagonnaud, 
Lieutenant-Marshal of Charolais ; and his godmother, Phili 
berte Labelliere. " Signed : 

" DAGONNAUD." " ANTOINE ALACOQUE." 

Here follows Margaret Mary s baptismal record. We have 
given it on page 39. 



VIII. 

Baptismal Record of Gilberte Alacoque, Sister of Margaret 

Mary. 

"This 23d day of May, 1649, in the church of Verosvres, by 
me, M. Antoine Alacoque, priest, pastor of said Verosvres, 
undersigned, was baptized Gilberte Alacoque, daughter of M. 
Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary, and of Lady Philiberte Lamyn, 
his wife, parishioners of said Verosvres. She was held over the 
baptismal font by Squire Jacques de la Belliere, Royal Notary, 
uncle of Lady Philiberte Lamyn, and Lady Gilberte de Arle- 
loup, Lady and Mistress of the seigniory of Terreau. 

" ANTOINE ALACOQUE." 

IX. 

Baptismal Record of Jacques Alacoque, Brother of Margaret 

Mary. 

" Jacques, son of Squire Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary of 
Verosvres, and Philiberte Lamyn, was baptized by me, the 
undersigned, pastor of Verosvres, Sunday, November 19, 1651. 
His godfather was Squire Jacques de la Belliere, and his god 
mother, Anne de Sainte-Julien, who are subscribed. 

" DE LA BELLIERE." "ANTOINE ALACOQUE," 

" ANNE DE SAINTE-JULIEN," 



Notes and Documents. 3/5 

x. 

Baptismal Record of Jean Delaroche, Son of Toussaint Dela- 
roche and of Benoite Alacoque, Aunt of Blessed Margaret 
Mary. 

"Jean, son of Toussaint Delaroche and of Benoite Alacoque, 
of the village of the Janots, parish of Verosvres, was baptized by 
me, cure of the said Verosvres, Monday, October 13, 1649. Jean 
Arleloup, Lord and Squire of Terreau, was his godfather, and 
Benoite de Meulin was his godmother. Signed by the Lord of 
Terreau. 

"JEAN ARLELOUP." "ANT. ALACOQUE." 

XI. 
Baptismal Record of Margaret Delaroche. 

" Margaret, daughter of Toussaint Delaroche and of Benoite 
Alacoque, residing at Lhautecour, was baptized by me, the un 
dersigned, cure of Verosvres, Thursday, June 4, 1654. Jean La- 
chere, steward of Terreau, was her godfather, and Margaret 
Alacoque, daughter of M. Claude Alacoque, Royal Notary at 
Lhautecour, and of Philiberte Lamyn, was her godmother. 

" ANT. ALACOQUE." 

XII. 

Baptismal Record of Antoine, Son of Toussaint Delaroche and of 
Benotte Alacoque, Aunt of Blessed Margaret Mary. 

" Antoine, son of Toussaint Delaroche and of Benoit Ala 
coque, of the village of Lhautecour, parish of Verosvres, was 
baptized by me, the undersigned, cure of said place, on Satur 
day, February 5, 1656; and my na me was given to him at the 
baptismal font by Jacques Maritain and his godmother, Benoite 
de Meulin. " ANT. ALACOQUE." 

XIII. 

Baptismal Record of Fran$oise-Gabrielle, Daughter of Toussaint 
Delaroche and Benoite Alacoque, Aunt of Blessed Margaret 
Mary. 

" Jeanne-Gabrielle, daughter of Toussaint Delaroche and of 
Benoite Alacoque, of Lhautecour, parish of Verosvres, was bap 
tized this day, March 5, 1659, by me, the undersigned, cure of 



376 Notes and Documents. 

the said place. M. Jean Demeulain was her godfather, and 
Gabriella de Lagrange her godmother. 

" ANT. ALACOQUE." 
For the true copy of all these records : 

DESSOLIN, Curt of Verosvres. 



NOTE V. 

AMODIATION POUR DAME PHILIBERTE LAMYN, WIDOW OF M. 
CLAUDE ALACOQUE, CONTRE JEAN COLIN, NOEL ET JEAN 
DELAGROST ET LAZARE PERDON, DE CHARNAY. 

(Du 23 Mars, 1656.) 

Par devant le notaire royal soussigne, et presents les temoins 
ez-bail nommes, et comparants en personne, dame Philiberte 
Lamyn, veuve de Me. Claude Alacoque, vivant notaire royal au 
lieu de Lhautecour, paroisse de Verosvres, laquelle en qualite 
de tutrice de ses enfants. et dudit feu sieur Alacoque, de gre et 
volonte, amodie, et, ace titre, delivre et remet pour le temps et 
terme de quatre ans entiers et consecutifs, quatre perceptions 
de fruits ensemences des laderniere fete de saint Martin d hiver 
et qui fineront a pareil jour et terme, lesdites quatre annees 
revolues ; a Jean Colin, Noel Delagrost, Jean Delagrost, et 
Lazare Perdon, laboureurs des villages de Charnay et Gauthiers, 
paroisse de Beaubery, presents et acceptants, savoir les biens 
iippartenants aux enfants mineurs dudit feu sieur Alacoque, et 
ladite Lamyn, au finage dudit Charnay, consistant en pres et 
terres ACQUlSES/tor ledit defunt dudit Jean Delagrost, de Benoit 
Cottin, d Andre Alacoque et de Philiberte Auclerc, suivant que 
lesdits pres et terres se component, et a la meme forme que 
ledit defunt en a ci-devant joui ; et ce pour lesdits Delagrost 
et autres susdenommes, cultiver lesdites terres bien et dument, 
et delaisser, lors de la derniere annee du present bail, les terres 
appelees les Pres des Jongs, le Poirier-au-Marchand, le Champ- 
des-Saignes ; deux terres, les Clous, Precieres, situees au lieu de 
Grevieres ; ensemencees de pareille quantite de graine seigle 
qu elles sont de present, les fruits desquelles seront partages 
par moitie entre les parties; comme aussi rayeront chacun 
au lesdits pres par leurs raies anciennes, et en y feront de 
nouvelles, si besoin fait; les faucheront, et en fin de compte les 
delaisseront bien clos et bien bouches, ainsi qu ils sont de 
present; et finalement ils useront desdits pres et terres en bons 



Notes and Docitments. 377 

peres de famille, a pcine de tous couts. La presente amodia- 
tion faite pour et moyennant la sornme de vingt livres en 
chacun an, que lesdits Delagrost, Colin et Perdon promettent 
par obligation de leurs personnes et biens faire solidairement, 
sans division ni discretion, a ladite dame Lamyn ou aux siens 
devant chacune fete saint Martin d hiver; dont le premier 
payenent commercera a la premiere saint Martin d hiver; et 
ainsi a continuer jusques es fin du present bail a meme jour, a 
peine de tous couts ; dont les parties sont contentes. Et 
pour la surete du contenu au present bail, icelles parties, 
chacune en droit soi, ont oblige tous leurs biens, meme les sus- 
dits preneurs leurs personnes submettent. 

Reconnu et fait au lieu de Lhautecour, au chemin qui va 
dudtt lieu a Trivy, proche la terre et la vigne d icelle Lamyn, 
ressort du Macconnais, comme ont dit les parties, le vingt- 
troisieme jour de mars mil six cent cinquante-six, apres midi ; 
presents, M. Frangois Basset, pretre, chapelain des chapelles 
Saint-Laurent et Saint-Denis, fondees en 1 eglise et Chapelle 
du Terreau, et Geoffroy de la Belliere, duditlieu de Lhautecour, 
temoins requis, qui, preneurs et de la Belliere, ont ditne savoir 
signer, enquis; lesdits dame Lamyn et sieur Basset s etant 
so & ussignes. La presente faite sans prejudice des debts et affaires 
que iceux preneurs ont et doivent a icelle Lamyn susdite. 

Signe : 

P. LAMYN, BASSET. 
DESCHISAULT, Not air e Royal. 

Pour ladite dame Lamyn est expedie : 

DESCHISAULT, Not air e Royal. 

NOTE VI. 

NAMES OF THE RELIGIOUS IN THE CONVENT OF PARAY AT 
THE TIME OF BLESSED MARGARET MARY S ENTRANCE, 



1. Mother Marie-Hyeronime Hersant, Superioress, pro 

fessed of the first convent of Paris; died at Paris, 
January soth. (See her Life in the Annee Sainte, 

vol. i. p. 742.) ...... ....... I<57 9 

2. Sr. Anne-Frangoise Thouvant, Assistant and Mistress 

of Novices ............... l6 77 



378 Notes and Documents. 

DIHD. 

3. Sr. Marie-Madeleine des Escures. (Annee Sainte, vol. 

iv. p. 322.) 1701 

4. Sr. Marie-Felicie de Cyrot 1684 

5. Sr. Marie-Christine Melin, Superioress during six 

years (1684-1690), then re elected for over twenty- 
nine years ; died aged eighty-nine years. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. xii. p. 31.) 1708 

6. Sr. Catherine-Agnes Bouilloud 1673 

7. Sr. Marie-Reine Betriant 1676 

8. Sr. Catherine-Seraphique Bouillet 1676 

9. Sr. Marie-Agnes Manger 1678 

10. Sr. Anne-Charlotte Desmolins du Bost 1679 

11. Sr. Marie de Coligny-Saligny 1682 

12. Sr. Louise-Marguerite de Molan 1684 

13. Sr. Jeanne-Frangoise Deltufort de Sirot 1684 

14. Sr. Marie-Aimee Baillet 1685 

15. Sr. Marie-Hilairc de Fougeres 1687 

16. Sr. Jeanne-Marguerite Thouvant 1691 

17. Sr. Catherine-Antoinette de Levis-Chateaumorand . 1694 

1 8. Sr. Marie-Jacqueline de Chaffault. (Annee Sainte, 

vol. vii. p. 93.) . 1695 

19. Sr. Claude-Angelique Monnier 1695 

20. Sr. Marie-Louise Forest 1697 

21. Sr. Frangoise-Marie d Amanze 1700 

22. Sr. Marie-Benigne de Fautrieres-Corcheval. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. vi. p. 297.) 1700 

23. Sr. Marie-Gabrielle de Busseul-Saint-Sernin . . . . 1701 

24. Sr. Jeanne-Madeleine Tupinier 1702 

25. Sr. Marie-Suzanne Piedenuz. (Annee Sainte, vol. v. 

P- 353)- 1711 

26. Sr. Marguerite- Agnes Carre 1706 

27. Sr. Jeanne-Marie Contois. (Annee Sainte, vol. v. p. 258.) 1729 

28. Sr. Anne-Gabrielle Piedenuz 1676 

29. Sr. Catherine-Augustine Marest. (Annee Sainte, vol. 

ii. p. 242. Circular of Dec. 17, 1717.) 1717 

30. Sr. Marie-Emerentianne Roselin. (Circular of Paray, 

March 23, 1725.) 1723 

31. Sr. Frangoise-Marguerite d Athose. (Circular, ibid.) 1725 

32. Sr. Marie-Anne Cordier 1711 

33. Sr. Marie-Anne Thouvant 1706 



Notes and Documents. 379 

DIED. 

34. Sr. Marie-Catherine Carme du Chailloux. (Circular 
of the Visitation of Paray, Oct. I, 1743. Annee 

Sainte, vol. vi, p. 203.) 1739 

Lay-Sisters. 

1. Sr. Anne-Catherine Heuillard. (Circular of March 

23- I725-) 1714 

2. Sr. Marie-Marguerite Heuillard 1723 

3. Sr. Jeanne-Aimee Letourneaux 1709 

4. Sr. Claude- Franchise Chappui 1711 

5. Sr. Frangoise-Angelique de la Metterie 1676 

6. Sr. Frangoise-Augustine Janiot. (Circular of March 

23, 1725-) 1720 

Sister-Novices . 

1. Sr. Anne-Jeronime Piedenuz 1675 

2. Sr. Anne-Ludivine Roselin 1702 

3. Sr. Frangoise-Catherine Carme du Chailloux . . . 1674 

Out- Sisters. 

1. Sr. Jeanne-Elisabeth Heritier .... . . . 1686 

2. Sr. Jeanne-Baptiste Pelletier 1686 

3. Sr. Marie- Agathe Com pain 1705 



NOTE VII. 

NAMES OF THE RELIGIOUS THAT ENTERED PARAY DURING 
MARGARET MARY S LIFETIME (1671-1690). 

TOOK THE HABIT. DIED. 

1. Sr. Marie-Elisabeth Quarre 1674 1678 

2. Sr. Anne-Elisabeth de la Garde. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. vi. p. 3.) 1673 1727 

3. Sr. Jeanne-Marie Gagon 1675 1683 

4. Sr. Marie-Antoinette Bouillet 1690 1703 

5. Sr. Marie-Joseph de Vichy-Chamron. 

(Annee Sainte, vol. vii. p. 206.) .... 1687 1700 

6. Sr. Claude-Marguerite Billiet. (Circular 

of March 23, 1725.) 1675 1722 

7. Sr. Anne-Alexis de Mareschalle. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. iii. p. 222.) 1679 1733 

8. Sr. Frangoise-Angelique de Damas. (Cir 

cular of March 23, 1725.) 1679 1733 



380 Notes and Documents. 

TOOK THE HABIT. DIED. 

9. Sr. Marie-Rosalie de Lyonne. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. vii. p. 359.) 1680 1725 

10. Sr. Marie- Lazare Dusson. (Annee Sainte, 

vol. vii. p. 466.) 1678 1744 

11. Sr. Frangoise-Rosalie Verchere. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. ix. p. 214. Circular of March 

23, 1725-) 1682 1719 

12. Sr. Peronne-Rosalie de Farges. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. v. p. 282.) 1683 *733 

13. Sr. Peronne-Marguerite Verchere . . . 1683 1746 

14. Sr. Marie-Frangoise Bocaud 1684 1701 

15. Sr. Marie-Christine Bouthier 1685 1701 

16. Sr. Marie-Nicole de la Faige des Claines. 

(Annee Sainte, vol. ix. p. 727.) .... 1686 1743 

17. Sr. Madeleine-Victoire de Chamron. (An 

nee Sainte, vol. vii. p. 216. Circular of 

Feb. 20, 1738.) 1687 1737 

18. Sr. Marie-Therese Basset. (Circular of De 

cember 17, 1717.) 1687 1716 

19. Sr. Frangoise-Seraphique de Martinieres. 

(Circular of December 17, 1717.) . . . 1688 1718 

20. Sr. Jeanne-Frangoise Chalon. (Circular of 

October i, 1743.) 1688 1743 

21. Sr. Marie-Jacqueline de la Vernelle. (An 

nee Sainte, vol. xi. p. 629.) 1689 1727 

22. Sr. Frangoise-Eleonore de Chamron . . . 1689 1726 

23. Sr. Marie-Dorotheede Chalonnay. (Annee 

Sainte, vol. vii. p. 347.) 1689 1717 

24. Sr. Anne-Marie Laumonier 1690 1746 

25. Sr. Marie-HyacintheCourtin. (Circular of 

March 23, 1725.) . . 1690 1721 



NOTE VIII. 

CIRCULARS OF PARAY, CONTAINING THE LIVES OF BLESSED 

MARGARET MARY S CONTEMPORARIES. 

Circular of March 8, 1701. 

Lives of Sr. Marie-Joseph de Vichy-Chamron 1700 

Sr. Frangoise-Marie d Amanze 1700 

Sr. Marie-Benigne de Fautrieres-Corcheval . . 1700 

Sr. Marie-Christine Bouthier 1701 

Sr. Marie-Fran goise Bocaud 1701 



Notes and Documents. 381 

Circular of November 22, 1701, of Mother Marie-Clotilde de 
Chaulnes. 

DIED 

Life of Sr. Marie-Gabrielle de Busseul 1701 

Notice of the death of Sr. des Escures 1701 

Community Circular of May 4, 1704. 

Sr. Anne-Liduvine Rosselin 1702 

Sr. Jeanne-Madeleine Tupinier 1703 

Sr. Marguerite-Marie Enos I73 

Sr. Marie-Esperance de Senecez 1703 

Sr. Marie- Antoinette Bouillet 1703 

Circular of Mother Anne-Elisabeth de la Garde, August 26, 1710. 

Mother Marie-Christine Melin I78 

Sr. Marie-Dorothee de Chalonnay 1710 

Community Circular of April 10, 1713. 

Sr. Jeanne-Aimee Lestourneau . . . 1708 

Sr. Marie-Joseph Bouthier I79 

Sr. Marie-Susanne Piedenuz I7 11 

Sr. Marie-Anne Cordier I7 11 

Sr. Claude-Frangoise Chapuy I7 12 

Community Circular of November I, 1715. 
Sr. Anne-Catherine Heuillard. 

Community Circular of December 17, 1717. 

Sr. Marie-Therese Basset. 
Sr. Catherine-Augustine Marest. 
Sr. Frangoise-Seraphique de Martinieres. 

Circular of March 23, 1725, signed by M other Anne- Elisabeth de 
la Gar de-Mar sac. It contains the Lives of Twelve Sisters : 

Sr. Frangoise-Rosalie Verchere. 

Sr. Frangoise-Angelique de Dames de Barnay. 

Sr. Frangoise-Augustine Janiot. 

Sr. Marie-Augustine. 

Sr. Marie-Hyacinthe Courtin. 

Sr. Marie-Charlotte Benoit. 

Sr. Claude-Marguerite Billiet. 

Sr. Catherine Heuillard. 

Sr. Marie-Emerentianne Roselin. 

Sr. Marie-Constance de Varennes de Gletin. 



382 Notes and Documents. 

Sr. Frangoise-Xavier de Martinieres. 
Sr. Marie-Christine de Morande. 
Sr. Frangoise-Marguerite d Athose. 

Community Circular of July 9, 1729. 

Sr, Marie-Rosalie de Lyonne. 

Sr. Marie-Joseph Baudinot de la Salle. 

Sr. Frangoise-Eieonore de Vichy-Chamron. 

Sr. Louise-Gabrielle Rochelon. 

Mother Anne-Elisabeth de la Garde. 

Sr. Marie- Philiberte de Bisefrand. 

Sr. Marie-Jacqueline de la Vernelle. 

Sr. Marie-Rosalie Lenet de Selorre. 

Sr. Marie-Frangoise Perrin. 

Sr. Jeanne-Emmanuel Busseret. 

Sr. Jeanne-Marie Comtois. 

Circular (no date}. Three Lives. (I735-) 

Sr. Anne-Alexis de Mareschalle. 
Sr. Frangoise-Elisabeth Biquelin. 
Sr. Claude-Rosalie Marque de Farges. 

Circular of February 20, 1738. 
Sr. Madeleine-Victoire de Vichy-Chamron. 

Circular of the jth of July, 1743, signed by Mother Marie- 
Helene Coing. 

Sr. Marie-Catherine Carme du Chailloux. 
Sr. Marie-Susanne de Bisefrand. 
Sr. Jeanne-Frangoise Chalon. 

Community Circular, April 17, 1743. 

Mother Marie-Nicole de la Faige des Claines 1743 

Sr. Marie-Lazare Dusson 1744 

Sr. Frangoise-Eieonore Gauthier 1745 



Notes and Documents. 383 



DECREE ON THE VIRTUES. 

DECRETUM AUGUSTODUNEM BEATIFICATIONIS ET CANONIZA- 
TIONIS VEN. SERVAE DEI SOR. MARGARITAE M. ALA- 
COQUE, SANCTIMONIALIS PROFESSAE ORDINIS VISITA- 
TIONIS BEATISSIMAE MARIAE VIRGINIS A S. FRANCISCO 
SALESIO INSTITUTI. 

Super Dubio : 

An constet Virtutibus Theologalibus Fide, Spe, et Charitate in 
Deum et Proximum; necnon de Cardinalibus, Prudentia, Jus- 
titia, Fortitudtne, et Temperantia, earumque adnexis, in gradu 
heroico, in casu, et ad effectum, de quo agitur ? 

Redemptor noster amabilis Christus Dominus, cujus deliciae 
esse cum filiis hominum VEN. FAMULAM SUAM MARGARITAM 
MARIAM ALACOQUEsupernis benedictionibus praevenitateneris 
annis, eidem adolescenti peramanter adfuit, eamque in accerrima 
saeculi, carnis, et daemonis pugna roboravit. Ipsa in sacras 
Monialium Aedes se recipiens, post quartum aetatis suae lus 
trum. ORDINEM VISITATIONIS BEATISSIMAE VIRGINIS a S. 
Francisco Salesio institutum professa est. Assiduis jejuniis, 
vigiliis, verberibus in corpusculum saeviit : juveniles vanitates 
exDsa omne poenitentiae et asperitatum genus aggressa est, 
praeclarisque se virtutibus exercuit. Flagrantissima praesertim 
in Redemptorem Jesum exardens charitate, ad ipsius amorem 
sacratissimi Cordis veneratione fideles omnes toto animo, ac 
fervidis verbis inflammare studuit assidue ; donee anhelans 
dissolvi et esse cum Divino Sponso, piissime spiritum reddidit, 
anno MDCXC, aetatis suae quadragesimotertio. 

VEN. MARGARITAE vitae ratio ob Virtutum sublimium ex- 
ercitium poenitentiae asperitatem, summumque in Jesu Christi 
patientis amorem, ejusdemque Ven. Virginis nomen late evul- 
gatum permovit Augustodunensem anno MDCCXV ad Pro- 
cessum instruendum super Ven. Servae Dei moribus, gestis, 
atque obitu : Qui tamen Processus ob varias rerum vicissitu- 
dines, et Galliae totiusque Europae perturbationes sub finem 
transact! Saeculi tardius in lucem prodivit ; et tandem ad Sacro- 
rum Rituum Congregationem delatus fuit, ac receptus anno 
MDCCCXix una cum alio processu de continuata Ven. 
Servae Dei Virtutum et Miraculorum fama. Deinde Anno 



384 Notes and Documents. 

MDCCCXXIV a sanctae memoriae Leone Papa XII. Com- 
missio Introductionis Causae signata est. 

Ex tune Apostolici Processus confecti fuerunt juxta Sum- 
morum Pontificum Decreta, ac jamcliu receptam consuetudinem, 
eaque oninia peracta stint sedulo, quae necessaria omnino erant 
in eadem Causa : et ideo plures iterum abierunt Anni, antequam 
ad inquisitionem Virtutum Theologalium et Cardinalium Ven. 
Servae Dei procederetur. Post annos itaque amplius centum 
quinquaginta a Ven. Margaritae obitu, ad illius Virtutum dis- 
quisitionem deventum est die 28 Aprilis anno MDCCCXL 
primum in Aedibus Reverendissimi Cardinalis Della-Porta, 
Causae Relatoris. Iterum die 4 Aprilis anno MDCCCXLIU 
in Palatio Apostolico Vaticano ante Reverend issimas Cardi- 
nales Sacris Ritibus praepositos. Tandem die 4 Januarii anno 
MDCCCXLV, in eodcm Palatio Apostolico Vaticano coram 
sanctae memoriae Gregorio Papa XVI. ubi, coacto Sacrorum 
Rituum generali Conventu, Reverendissimus Cardinalis Con- 
stantinus Patrizi, Relator, proposuit Dubium: An constet de 
Virtutibus Theologalilus ct Cardinalibus, cor unique adne.vis in 
gradu heroico, et ad ejfectum, de quo agitur? Et ipse Relator 
caeterique Reverendissimi Cardinales et Patres Consultores 
suffragia singuli protulerunt. Omnibus auditis, Summus idem 
Pontifex suam supremam sententiam elicere juxta morem 
supersederat, admonens su[)erni luminis auxilium in hoc ardyo 
judicio fervidis precibus esse poscendum. Ouin autem suam 
mentem panderet, mortalem cum aeterna vita commutavit. 
Illius in Summo Pontificatu Successor Sanctissimus Dominus 
Noster Pius PAPA IX., rei cognita serie. Sacrorum Rituum 
generalia Comitia coram se habenda die 1 1 Augusti currentis 
Anni indixit, ut iterum quaestio de Virtutibus Ven. Margaritae 
instituretur. Convenerunt itaque sta uta die in Palatium Apos- 
tolicum quirinale coram Sanctissimo Domino Nostro Pio PAPA 
IX. Reverendissimi Cardinales, caeterique Patres: et quum 
Reverendissimus Cardinalis Patrizi, Relator, proposuisset idem 
Dubinin : Aft const et de Virtntibus TheologaJibus et Cardi- 
nalibus Ven. Margaritae? suffragia omnes et singuli tulerunt, 
quae cum attente audisset Summus Pontifex, adhibendas esse 
preces dixit ad divinum lumen implorandum, antequam suam 
promeret sententiam. Quum itaque intensius orasset, etomnia 
secum mente revolvisset, animum suum patefacer*e statuit hac 
die Dominica XII. post Pentecostem quum biduo ante cele- 



Notes and Documents. 385 

bratum fuisset festum S. Joannae Franciscae de Chantal Fun- 
datricis Ordinis Visitationis Beatissimae Mariae Virginis a S. 
Francisco Salesio instituti quern professa fuerat Ven. Margaritae 
Ideo Sacris propitiate Deo accedens ad Sacram Aedem Monia- 
lium Visitationis SSmus Dorninus Noster Pius PAPA IX., illuc 
adcersivit. Rmos Cardinales Fr. Ludovicum Micara Episcopum 
Ostiensem et Veliternum, Sacri Collegio Decanum, Sacrorum 
Rituum Congregationi praefectum, et Constantinum Patrizi 
suum in Urbe Vicarium, Causae Relatorem, una cum R. P. 
Andrea Maria Frattini, Sanctae Fidei Promotore, atque in- 
frascripto me Secretario; ac solemniter pronuntiavit : Ita 
constare de Virtutibus theologalibus et cardinalibus, earumque 
adnexis, in gradu heroico, Ven. Servae Dei Sororis Margaritae 
Mariae Alacoque, lit tuto procedi possit ad discussionem Trium 
Miracitlorum. 

Hoc autem Decretum evulgari, et in Acta Sacrorum Rituum 
Congregationis referri jussit decimo Kalendas Septemb. anno 

MDCCCXLVI. 

F. L. CARD. MICARA, 5. R. C. Praefectus. 
[Loco * Sigil.i.] G FATATIJ 5 R c Secretarius . " 



\_Translation of the Decree on the Virtues. ,] 

DECREE CONCERNING THE CHURCH OF AUTUN, FOR THE 
BEATIFICATION AND CANONIZATION OF THE VENERABLE 
SERVANT OF GOD, SISTER MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE, 
A PROFESSED RELIGIOUS OF THE ORDER OF THE VISITA 
TION, ST. MARY, INSTITUTED BY ST. FRANCIS DE SALES. 

On this question, namely : 

Can it be proved that the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, 
and Charity toward God and the neigJibor, as well as the car 
dinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, and 
others which follow them, were practised in an heroic degree in 
this case, and with the effects they ought to produce ? 

Our amiable Redeemer, Jesus, whose delights are to be with 
the children of men, has endowed His venerable Servant, Mar 
garet Mary Alacoque, with all benedictions from on high, from 



386 Notes and Documents. 

her tenderest years assisting her with His love in her youth, 
and strengthening her amidst her violent combats against the 
world, the flesh, and the demon. She entered religion after her 
twentieth year, and was professed in the Order of the Visita 
tion, founded by St. Francis de Sales. She mortified her body 
by fasts, vigils, and continued macerations. Having a horror 
of the vanities of the world, from her youth she embraced all 
kinds of penance and mortification, and exercised the most 
sublime virtue. Consumed by the most ardent love for the 
Divine Redeemer Jesus, she strove with her whole heart and 
by the most touching exhortations to enkindle the same love in 
all the faithful by the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, till 
the hour when, burning to be dissolved, and to be united to her 
heavenly Spouse, she piously gave up her soul, in the year of 
the Lord 1690, and the forty-third of her age. 

The life of the Venerable Margaret Mary, adorned with the 
most sublime virtues, the severity of her penance, her ardent 
love for Jesus suffering, the renown of this venerable virgin 
spread afar, determined the Bishop of Autun, in 1715, to insti^ 
tute a process on her morals, actions, and death. This process, 
after long delays, caused by different circumstances and by the 
troubles of France and Europe toward the end of the last cen 
tury, having been finally produced and referred to the Congre 
gation of Rites, was received in the year 1819 with another 
process attesting the uninterrupted renown of the virtues and 
miracles of the Venerable Servant of God. Afterward, in the 
year 1824, His Holiness Pope Leo XII. signed the commission 
for the introduction of the cause. 

From this moment the apostolic processes were instituted 
according to the decree of the Sovereign Pontiff, and, according 
to long-established custom, all that was necessary for this cause 
was prepared carefully; hence several years glided by before 
the examination of the theological and cardinal virtues of the 
Servant of God could be undertaken. On April 28, 1840, about 
one hundred and fifty years after the death of the Venerable 
Margaret Mary, the examination of her virtues was proceeded 
with, first in the palace of the Most Illustrious Cardinal Delia 
Porta, reporter of the cause, and afterward, April 4, 1843, in the 
Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, in the presence of the Most 
Reverend Cardinals, members of the Congregation of Rites. 
In fine, April 4th, in the same palace, in presence of His Holiness 



Notes and Documents. 387 

Gregory XVI., the Most Reverend Cardinal Constantine Patrizi, 
reporter of the cause, proposed this question : Whether the theo 
logical virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity toward God and the 
neighbor, with the cardinal virtues of Prudence, were practised 
in an heroic degree, etc., after which the Reverend Cardinals and 
Fathers Consultors gave their suffrages. 

Having heard all, the Sovereign Pontiff suspended, accord 
ing to custom, the last declaration, aware that in so important 
a decision it was necessary to implore the aid and light of 
Heaven by fervent prayer. But before making known his 
intentions, he went to take possession of a better life. His 
successor in the Sovereign Pontificate, Pope Pius IX., took 
cognizance of the state of the cause, and ordered the General 
Congregation of Rites to assemble in his presence, August i ith, 
of the same year, to discuss anew the question of the virtues of 
the Venerable Margaret. The Most Reverend Cardinals and 
other Fathers met on an appointed day in the Apostolic Palace 
of the Quirinal, in presence of the Holy Father, Pius IX. ; and 
when the Most Reverend Cardinal Patrizi had proposed this 
question, namely, Whether the theological virtues, etc., they all 
gave their votes; and after having heard them attentively, His 
Holiness invited them to redouble their prayers to implore the 
divine succor before making known His will. After having 
prayed with much fervor and repassed all in his mind, he 
resolved to declare his sentiments on this day, the twelfth Sun 
day after Pentecost, two days after the celebration of the feast 
of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, foundress of the Visitation 
Order established by St. Francis de Sales, and of which the 
Venerable Margaret Mary was a professed religious. Having 
invoked God s mercy by his pious prayers, our Holy Father 
repaired to the convent of the Visitation, attended by the Most 
Reverend Cardinals Francis Louis Micara, Bishop of Ostia and 
Velletri, Dean of the Sacred College, Prefect of the Congre 
gation of Holy Rites; Constantine Patrizi, his vicar for the 
city, reporter of the cause; Reverend Father Andrew Mary 
Frattini, promoter of the Holy Faith; and myself, the under 
signed secretary, and solemnly decided : " That the theological 
and cardinal virtues, and other virtues consequent thereon, were 
practised in an heroic degree by the Venerable Servant of God, 
Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, so that in all security the dis 
cussion of the miracles may be proceeded with." 



388 Notes and Documents. 

This decree has been published and inserted in the acts of the 
Congregation of Holy Rites, in compliance with the orders of 
His Holiness, this 23d day of August, 1846. 

F. L. MICARA, Pref. of the Cong, of Holy Rites. 
J. G. FAT ATI, Secretary. 



DECREE ON THE MIRACLES. 

DECRETUM AUGUSTODUNEN. SEU AEDUN. BEATIFICATIONIS 
ET CANONIZATIONIS VEN. SERVAE DEI SORORIS MARIAE 
MARGARITAE ALACOQUE, SANCTIMONIALIS PROFESSAE 
ORDINIS VISITATIONIS BEATISSIMAE MARIAE VIRGINIS 
A. S. FRANCISCO SALESIO INSTITUTI. 

Super Dubio. 

An, et de quibus mtraculis constet in casu, et ad ejfectum de 
quo agitur? 

Divinae illius Charitatis igne, quern Jesus Christus in terram 
mittere venerat, Venerabilis MARGARITA MARIA ALACOQUE 
vehementer incensa, nullum non movit lapidem, ut Sacritissimi 
CORDIS JESU a quo illud amoris incendium erumpebat, et qua- 
quaversus diffundebatur, venerationem ac pietatum in fidelium 
animis ubique terrarum constitueret, augeret, atque amplifi- 
caret. Et quamvis haec Dei famula omnibus, dum in humanis 
ageret, virtutibus inclaruerit, tamen ardentissimus, quo age- 
batur, in COR JESU amor studiumque impensissimum, quo ad 
illud redamandum omnium corda excitare satagebat, ceterarum 
veluti virtutum compendium extitit. Postquam ergo, seraphi- 
cis consumpta ardoribus, ad suavissimum CORDIS JESU am- 
plexum evolaverat, voluit Dominus, ut gloriae fastigium quod 
ejus sponsa assecuta fuerat in coelis, signis ac porteritis etiam 
innotesceret in terris. Instituta de iisdem per processuales 
tabulas disquisitione, tria allata sunt in Sacrorum Rituum Con- 
gregationis judicium Miracula, quae deprecante famula Dei 
MARGARITA patrata divinitus ferebatur. 

Itaque primum causa haec agitari coepit in antipraeparatorio 
Conventu, postridie Nonas Septembris anni MDCCCLix, penes 



Notes and Documents. 389 

Reverendissimum Cardinalem Constantinum Patrizi Episco- 
pum Portuensem et S. Rufinae, Sacrorum Rituum Congrega 
tion! Praefectum, et Causae Relatorem. De ea iterum discep- 
tatum fuit in praeparatorio Coetu apud Apostolicas Vaticanas 
Aedes collecto, Decimo Septimo Kalendas, Octobris anni 
MDCCCLXlll. Tertium denique hujusmodi Causa subiit experi- 
mentum, in generalibus Comitiis in eodem Vaticano Palatio 
coram Sanctissimo Domino Nostro PlO PAPA IX. habitis 
Kalendis Martii vertentis anni ; in quibus quum Reverendissi- 
mus Cardinalis Constantinus Patrizi, Causa Relator, propro- 
suisset dubium An, et de quibus Miraculis constet in casu, et ad 
ejfectum de quo agitur? Reverendissimi Cardinales, et Patres 
Consultores, suffragia singuli protulerunt. 

Quibus auditis, Sanctissimus Dominus Noster noluit illico 
suam pandere mentem, sed omnes admonuit, ut adhibitis preci- 
bus ac postulationibus sibi a divina Sapientia impetraretur 
lumen ad supremum judicium suum pronuntiandum. 

Tandem diem hanc designavit, in qua solemnis recolitur 
commemoratio sancti Fidelis a Sigmaringa, Martyris. Itaque 
Sanctissimus Dominus Noster, postquam sacra Mysteria in suo 
domestico Vaticano sacello piisime celebrasset, ad aedes se con- 
tulit Collegii Urbani Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda 
Fide, insignes Reliquias invicissimi Martyris hujus veneraturus 
inde superiori in aula ad se accitis Reverendissimo Cardinale 
Constantino Patrizi, Episcopo t ortuensi etS. Rufinae, Sacrorum 
Rituum Congregationi Praefecto, Causaeque Relatore, una cum 
R. P. Andrea Maria Frattini, Sanctae Fidei Promotore, et me 
infrascripto Secretario, iisdemqueadstantibus rite pronuntiavit: 
Constare de tribus Miraculis in tertio genere, Venerabili Mar 
garita Maria Alacoque inter cedente, a Deo patratis ; nempe de 
primo: Instantaneae perfect aeque sanationis Sororis Mariae 
Theresiae Petit, Monialis Professae Ordinis Visitationis Beatae 
Mariae Virginis, ab inveterato aneurismate in praecordiis ; de 
secundo : Instantaneae perfectaeque sanationis Sororis Mariae de 
Sales Charault, Monialis Professae ejusdem Ordinis, acancro oc- 
culto in ventriculo ; de tertio: Instantaneae perfectaeque sana 
tionis Sororis Mariae Aloisiae Bollani, ejusdem Ordinis a pulmo- 
num phthisi tuberculari confirmata et incurabili gravissimis 
stipata symptojuatibus. 

Atque hoc Decretum in vulgus edi et in acta Sacrorum 



390 Notes and Documents. 

Rituum Congregationis referri jussit Octavo Kalendas Maias 
anni MDCCCLXIV. 

C. EPISCOPUS PORTUEN. ET S. 

[Loco * Sigilli.j CARD. PATRIZI, S. R. C. Praefectus. 

D. BARTOLINI, S. R. C., Secretarius. 



[Translation of the Decree on the Miracles.] 

DECREE CONCERNING THE CHURCH OF AUTUN, FOR THE 
BEATIFICATION AND CANONIZATION OF THE VENERABLE 
SERVANT OF GOD, SISTER MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE, 
A PROFESSED RELIGIOUS OF THE ORDER OF THE VISITA 
TION OF HOLY MARY, INSTITUTED BY ST. FRANCIS DE 
SALES. 

On this question, namely : 

Can it be proved that miracles, and some particular miracles, 
have been wrought in this present case, and have they produced 
the effect stated? 

All inflamed with the fire of divine charity which Jesus Christ 
came on earth to kindle, the Venerable Margaret Mary Ala- 
coque neglected nothing to cause the reign, growth, and exten 
sion of veneration and piety toward the most Sacred Heart of 
Jesus, whence would escape and radiate on all sides the flames 
of love. And though in this Servant of God, while she lived 
in the world, all virtues shone resplendent, yet all were included 
in the burning love with which she was inflamed for the Heart 
of Jesus, and the indefatigible zeal with which she endeavored 
to excite all hearts to return Him love for love. After yield 
ing to the seraphic ardors that consumed her, she went to re 
pose in the sweet embraces of the Heart of Jesus, and the Lord 
willed that miracles and prodigies should manifest on earth 
the glory with which she is crowned in heaven. Following up 
the information received on these same miracles, by means 
of registers proving the results of the process, we submitted to 
the judgment of the Congregation of Rites three miracles that 
were performed, and said to be divinely accomplished by the 
prayers of the servant of God, Margaret Mary. Therefore, this 
cause began to be examined at first in an ante-preparatory as 
sembly, September 6, 1859, under the presidency of the Most 
Rev. Cardinal Constanune Patrizi, Bishop of Porto and St. 



Notes and Documents. 391 

Rufina, Prefect of the Congregation of Holy Rites, reporter of 
the cause. It was again discussed in a preparatory assembly 
which met at the Apostolic College of the Vatican, September 
15, 1863. In short, it was submitted to a third debate of the 
same kind, in a general assembly at the same palace of the 
Vatican, in presence of our Holy Father, Pope Pius IX., March 
ist of the same year; during which, after the Most Rev. Re 
porter of the cause had proposed this question, namely : 
Whether there have been miracles, and what miracles, in this 
case, and withwhat effects? the Most Rev. Cardinals and the 
Fathers Consultors gave each his suffrage. After having 
heard them, our most Holy Father, not wishing to give his 
decision immediately, invited them to beg for him of the 
Divine Wisdom, by their prayers and supplications, the lights 
he needed in order to pronounce a definitive sentence. 

Finally, he designated the day on which the Church honors 
each year the memory of the holy martyr Fidelis. Hence, 
our most Holy Father, after having celebrated with the most 
ardent devotion the Holy Mysteries in his private chapel of 
the Vatican, repaired to the palace of the Urban College of the 
Holy Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, there to 
venerate the relics of this invincible martyr; then, having 
ordered the Most Rev. Cardinal Patrizi, Bishop, etc., to come 
to the aforesaid palace with the Rev. Father Andrew Mary 
Frattini, Promoter of the Holy Faith, and myself, the under 
signed secretary, he made in our presence the following decla 
ration : 

" That he admits the three miracles of the third order wrought 
by the almighty power of God at the intercession of the Vener 
able Margaret Mary Alacoque, viz.: first, the instantaneous 
and complete cure of Sister Mary Teresa Petit, a professed 
religious of the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary, of an inveterate aneurism of the heart ; secondly, of the 
instantaneous and complete cure of Sister Mary de Sales Cha- 
rault, a professed religious of the same Order, of an internal 
cancer in the stomach ; thirdly, the instantaneous and com 
plete cure of Sister Mary Aloysia Bollani, of the same Order, of 
a tubercular phthisis, characterized by grave symptoms, and 
considered incurable." 

This Decree was published and inserted in the acts of the 



392 Notes and Docu ments. 

Congregation of Holy Rites, by order of His Holiness, April 24, 
1864. 

CONSTANTINE, Bishop of Porto and St. Rufina. 
[L. * s.] CARDINAL PATRIZI, Prefect of the Congregation 

of Holy Rites. 
D. BARTOLINI, Secretary of the said Congregation. 



DECREE OF BEATIFICATION. 
Pius PP. IX. 

AD PERPETUAM REI MEMORIAM. 

Auctor nostrae fidei et consummator Jesus, qui nirr.ia ductus 
charitate, naturae mortalis infirmitate assumpta, obtulit se in 
ara crucis immaculatum Deo, ut nos a peccati teterrima servi- 
tute liberaret, nihil potius habuit, quam ut flammam charitatis, 
qua Cor Ejus ureretur, in hominum animis modis omnibus 
excitaret, quemadmodum suis adseruisse discipulis ncvimus ex 
Evangelio, " Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut 
accendatur ?" Hunc vero charitatis ignem ut magis incenderet, 
sanctissimi Sui Cordis venerationern cultumque institui in Ec- 
clesia voluit, ac promoveri. Ecquis enim tarn durus ac ferreus 
sit quin moveatur ad radamandum Cor illud suavissimum id- 
circo transfixum ac vulneratum lancea, ut animus ibi noster 
quoddam quasi latibulum, ac perfugium habeat, quo se ab 
hostium incursione insidiisque recipiat, ac tueatur? Ecquis 
non provocetur ad prosequendum omni observantiae studio 
Cor illud sacratissimum, cujus ex vulnere aqua, et sanguis, fons 
scilicet nostrae vitae ac salutis effluxit ? Jamvero ad tarn salu- 
tarem, ac debitum pietatis cultum instituendum, lateque inter 
homines propagandum eligere Servator Noster dignatus est 
Venerabilem Famulam suam Margaritam Mariam de Alacoque 
religiosam sororem ex ordine Visitationis Beatae MariaeVir- 
ginis, quae quidem et innocentia vitae et assidua virtutum 
omnium exercitatione tantoofficio ac muneri, divina adjuvante 
gratia se dignam probavit. Haec enim vero in oppido, cui 
nomen Lhautecour, intra fines Diocesis Augustodunensis in 
Gallia honesto genere orta jam inde a pueritia ingenium docile 
prae se tulit, moresque probos, et supra aetatem composites, sic 
ut qualis esset futura, certis indiciis parentes ominarentur. 
Etenimadhuc puella ab oblectamentis, quibus ilia aetatula capi 



Notes and Documents. 393 

solet, abhorrens, secretiora petebat domus cubicula, ubi intenta 
mente Deum coleret ac veneraretur, adolescentior autem fre- 
quentiam hominum devitans nihil magis habebat in deliciis, 
quam versari in templis assidue, precesque ad plures horas pro- 
ducere. Virginitatem emisso voto primis ab annis Deo conse- 
cravit, atque adeo jejuniis, flagellis, aliisque asperitatibus ad- 
fligere corpus instituit, ut iisdem quibusdam quasi spinis vir- 
ginitatis florem septum custodiret. Mansuetudinis porro, atque 
Immilitatis illustre documentum exhibuit. Etenim demortuo 
patre, matre vero turn aetate, turn gravi morbo confecta, ab iis, 
qui rei domesticae curationem gerebant, sic dure atque aspere 
habita est, ut rebus etiam ad victum cultumque necessariis 
plerumque careret. Atqui tantam inclementiam atque in- 
juriam, proposito sibi Christi patientis exemplo, complures 
annos aequo animo tulit. Novem annos nata ad Sanctissimum 
Eucharistiae Sacramentum suscipiendum primum accessit, 
acque ex coelesti dape tantum concepit charitatis ardorem ut 
ignis ille divinus ex ejus ore, acque oculis emicaret. Pari erga 
proximum charitate incensa, graviter dolebat miseram puero- 
rum turbam fere a parentibus derelictam vitiis succrescere 
rerum ad salutem aeternam pertinentium ignaram, idcirco eos, 
patienter erudiebat mysteriis fidei, ad virtutem informabat, et 
vero etiam non modicam quotidiani cibatus partem eisdem 
alendis detrahere sibi consueverat. Quum caelestem sibi 
Sponsum delegisset, exhibatas a matre nuptias licet opulentas 
atque illustres constanter recusavit, et quo datam coelesti 
eidem sponso fidem praestaret securius, de ingrediendo sacra- 
rum virginum claustro cogitavit. Qua de re posteaquam diu 
multumque secum deliberasset, fusisque precibus Divinam con- 
suluisset voluntatem, annum agens aetatis suae vices imum 
tertium, in civitate cui nomen Paray le Monial, intra fines 
Augustodunensis Diocesis religiosis sororibus ex Ordine Visi- 
tationis Beatae Mariae Virginis adscita est. In tyrocinio quum 
se talem probasset, qualem et egregia ad virtutem indoles, et 
innocenter acta vita portenderat, ad solemnia nuncupanda vota 
admitti promeruit. Quibus quidem nuncupatis videri coepit 
ad rehgiosae disciplinae perfectionem concitato cursu con- 
tendere ; adeo sodalibus suis Deo dicatis virtutum omnium ex 
emplar enituit. Mira quippe in ipsa elucebet humilitas, singu- 
laris et in obtemperando alacritas, et in quibusvis molestiis 
perferendis patientia, accuratissima legum vel minimarum ob- 



394 Notes and Documents. 

servantia, in afflictando corpore assidua austeritas, numquam 
intermissum precationis studiam, cui dies noctesque quum in- 
staret, alienato saepe a sensibus animo, divinae gratiae donis 
uberrime perfundebatur. In recolendis autem Christ! Domini 
cruciatibus tanto afficiebatur doloris sensu, tantaque inardes- 
cebat amoris flamma, ut prope exanimis plerumque languesceret. 
Porro quum ob virtutis praestantiam omnium sibi sodalium 
admirationem conciliasset, puellis, quae in tyrocinio versaren- 
tur, ad religiosam vitam exercendis, informandisque praeposita 
fuit, eique muneri nulla potuisset aptior inveniri, quam Vene- 
rabilis Margarita Maria, utpote quae commissas suae fidei ac 
magisterio puellas ad ingrediendum atque excurrendum per- 
feciioniis iter erigerit, ac confirmaret exemplo suo. Jam vero 
ante augustissimum Eucharistiae Sacramentum eidem fervidius 
oranti signiftcatum est a Christo Domino, gratissimum sibi fore 
si cultus institueretur sacratissimi Sui Cordis humanum erga 
genus charitatis igne flagrantis, ac velle Se hujus rei curam ipsi 
demandatam. Qua erat burnilitate cohorruit Venerabilis Dei 
Famula, tanto se officio indignam existimans; sed tamen ut 
supernae obsequeretur voluntati, utque desiderio suo faceret 
satis divinum amorem in hominum animis excitandi, studiose 
egit turn apud religiosas sui Coenobii sorores, turn vero etiam 
apud omnes, quoad potuit, homines, ut Cor illud Sanctissimum 
divinae charitatis sedem omni honoris significatione colerent 
ac venerarentur. Multae idcirco et graves Venerabili Dei 
Famulae tolerandae fuerunt molestiae, plurimae superandae 
difficultates, numquam tamen ipsa dejecit animum, et spe sub- 
nixa coelestis auxilii tam operose ac constanter promovere in- 
stitit id genus pietatis, ut divina favente gratia, non sine magno 
animarum fructu in Ecclesia auctum longe sit ac propagatum. 
Denique dissolvi cupiens, ut ad coelestes agni nuptias, quas 
tantopere deperibat, advolaret, non tam marbo, quam flamma 
charitatis absumpta diem obiit supremum decimo sexto ka- 
lendas Novembris anno MDCLXXXX. Quae de Venerabilis 
Margaritae Mariae sanctitate invaluerat opinio percrebuit magis 
postquam ipsa e vivis excessit, accedente praesertim prodigi- 
orum celebritate, quae Venerabili Dei Famula deprecante fere- 
bantur contigisse. Quapropter anno MDCCXV. Augustodu- 
nensis Antistes de illius vita et moribus opportunas de more 
tabulas condendas curavit. Verumtamen ne ad Sanctae Sedis 
judicium deferri causa posset gravissimi rerum publicarum. 



Notes and Do elements. 395 

motus effecerunt, qui exeunte saeculo decimo octavo univer- 
sam fere Europam perturbarent. Sedata tamen turbulentissima 
procella temporum postulatum est Apostolicae Sedis judicium, 
et apud Consilium S. R. Ecclesiae Cardinalium sacris ritibus 
tuendis praepositorum instituta de virtutibus quaestione, qui- 
bus Venerabilis Margarita inclaruisset, rebus omnibus diu 
multumque ponderatis, Nos tandem heroicum illas attigisse 
gradum ediximus decreto evulgato decimo kalendas Septem- 
bris anno MDCCCXLVI. Exinde in eodem Cardinalium Con- 
silio proposita disceptatio est de miraculis, quibus Vene 
rabilis Margaritae sanctitas comprobata divinitus diceretur, ac 
postquam severe habito examine turn a Consultoribus, turn a 
Cardinalibus ilia fuissent probata, Nos implorato antea snperni 
luminis auxilio, de eorundem miraculorum veritate -affirmitivam 
evulgavimus sententiam die octavo kalendas Majas anni ver- 
tentis MDCCCLXIV. Illud unum supererat, ut iidem interro- 
garentur Cardinales num procedi tuto posset ad Beatorum 
Coelitum honores Venerabili Margaritae tribuendos, iidemque 
coram Nobis coacti decimo octavo kalendas Julii vertentis 
anni procedi tuto posse unanimi suffragio responderunt. 
Nos porro, ut in tanta re> coelestem opem adprecati die 
octavo kalendas Julii anni ejusdem decrevimus deferri 
tuto posse, quum Nobis visum esset, Venerabili Servae Dei 
Beatorum honores cum omnibus indultis, donee solemnis 
Ejusdem canon izatio celebretur. Nos igitur permoti preci- 
bus omnium ferine Sacrorum Galliae Antistitum, nee non 
religiosorum sororum Ordinis Visitationis B. Mariae Vir- 
ginis, de consilio et assensu Venerabilium Fratrum Nostro- 
rum S. R. Ecclesise Cardinalium sacris ritibus cognoscendis 
praepositorum auctoritate Nostra Apostolica facultatem imper- 
timur ut eadem Venerabilis Dei Famula Margarita Maria de 
Aiacoque Beatae nomine in posterum nuncupetur, ejusque cor 
pus et reliquiae, non tamen in solemnibus supplicationibus 
deferendae, publicae fidelium venerationi proponantur. Prae- 
terea eadem auctoritate concedimus, ut de ilia recitetur offi- 
cium et missa de communi virginum cum orationibus propriis 
a nobis approbatis juxta rubricas missalis et breviarii Romani. 
Ejusmodi vero missae celebrationem, et officii recitationem 
fieri dumtaxat concedimus in Diocesi Augustodunensi, ac in 
templis omnibus domorum ubicumque existentium, in quibus 
institutus reperitur religiosus ordo monialium Visitationis B. 



396 Notes and Docitments. 

Mariae Virginis, die xvn Octobris ab omnibus christifidelibus 
tarn saecularibus, quam regularibus qui horas canonicas recitare 
teneantur, et quantum ad missas attinet ab omnibus Sacerdo- 
tibus ad templa, in quibus festum celebratur confluentibus. 
Denique concedimus, ut anno a datis hisce Litteris primo 
Solemnia beatificationis Venerabilis Servae Dei Margaritae 
Mariae de Alacoque in Diocesi, atque in Templis, de quibus 
habita mentio est, celebrentur cum officio, et missis duplicis 
majoris ritus, idque fieri praecipimus die per Ordinaries indi- 
enda, ac posteaquam eadem solemnia in Basilica Vaticana 
celebrata sint. Non obstantibus Constitutionibus, et Ordina- 
tionibus Apostolicis, ceterisque contrariis quibuscumque. Vo- 
lumus autem ut harum Litterarum exemplis etiam impressis, 
dummodo manu Secretarii praedictae Congregationis sacrorum 
ritum subscripta sint, et sigillo Praefecti munita, eadem prorsus 
fides habeatur, quae Nostrae voluntatis significationi hisce os- 
tensis Litteris haberetur. Datum ex Arce Gandulphi sub An- 
nulo Fiscatoris die xix mensis Augusti anno MDCCCLXIV. 
Pontificatus Nostri Anno Decimonono. 

N. CARD. PARACCIANI CLARELLI. 



[Translation of the Decree of Beatification.] 

Pius IX., POPE. 

FOR A PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE. 

Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who, led by His 
exceeding charity, having taken upon Himself the weakness of 
our mortal nature, offered Himself unspotted unto God upon 
the altar of the Cross, in order to free us from the most hate 
ful slavery of sin, desired nothing so much as to enkindle, by 
every means, in the soul of men, that charity with which His 
Heart was consumed, as we know from the Gospel He declared 
to His disciples : " I am come to cast fire on the earth ; and 
what will I but that it be enkindled ?" 

In order the more to enkindle this fire of charity, He would 
have the adoration and worship of His most Sacred Heart 
established and propagated in the Church. For who, indeed, 
is there so hard-hearted and unfeeling as not to be moved to 
make a return of love to that amiable Heart which was pierced 
and wounded with the lance, in order that our soul might find 
therein a hiding-place, as it were, a secure retreat, to which we 



Notes and Documents. 397 

may betake ourselves in safety from the attacks and snares of 
our enemies? Who would not be moved to show every mark 
of love and honor to that most Sacred Heart from the wound 
of which flowed forth water and blood, the source of our life 
and salvation ? 

In order to establish and spread far and wide amongst man 
kind this so saving devotion, and one so justly due from us, 
o,:r Saviour vouchsafed to choose His servant, the Venerable 
Margaret Mary Alacoque, a religious of the Order of the 
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, by her innocence 
of Iif<j and constant practice of every virtue, proved herself 
worthy, with the aid of divine grace, of this exalted office and 
charge. 

Born of a good family in the town of Lhautecour, in the 
uiocese of Autun, in France, she manifested from her very in 
fancy a docility, regularity, and gravity beyond her years, so as 
to give her parents unmistakable tokens of what she would be 
In after-life. When still quite a child, she showed a distaste 
/or all the little gratifications that are so commonly attractive 
to children, and repaired to the more retired rooms of the 
house, where she might with her whole soul worship and adore 
God. As she grew older, she shunned the company of others, 
and delighted in nothing so much as in constantly visiting 
churches, and there prolonging her prayers for several hours. 
She consecrated her virginity to God from her tender years, and 
began to afflict her body with fasts, disciplines, and other austeri 
ties, that she might thus hedge in, as it were, with thorns and 
guard the flower of her virginity. 

She presented also a striking example of meekness and 
humility. For when her father was dead and her mother worn 
out by age and severe sickness, she was treated with such 
harshness and severity by those that had care of the house, as 
often to want even what was necessary for food and clothing. 
Vet she meekly bore this cruelty and injustice for several years, 
setting before her eyes the example of the sufferings of Christ. 

When she was nine years of age she approached the Holy 
Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time, and drew from 
this heavenly banquet so ardent a charity that the divine fire 
shone forth from her countenance and eyes. 

Inflamed with a like charity toward her neighbor, she deeply 
grieved at the sad state of so many children, who were almost 



398 Notes and Documents. 

abandoned by their parents, and were growing up in vice and 
ignorance of what regarded their eternal salvation ; she accord 
ingly instructed them with much patience in the mysteries of 
faith, trained them to virtue, and was even wont to deprive 
herself of a considerable portion of her daily sustenance to feed 
them. 

Having chosen for herself a heavenly Spouse, she steadfastly 
refused her mother s offer of the hand of a person of wealth 
and distinction; and the better to insure her fidelity, which 
she had pledged to her heavenly Spouse, she thought of enter 
ing an Order of cloistered nuns. After weighing the matter long 
and seriously, and consulting the divine will in earnest prayer, 
she was admitted, in the twenty-third year of her age, among 
the Sisters of the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary, in the town of Paray-le-Monial, in the diocese of Autun. 

Having shown herself in her noviseship such as her excel 
lent disposition for virtue and the innocence of her past life 
had betokened, she deserved to be admitted to pronounce her 
solemn vows. After that she appeared to press forward with 
redoubled speed toward the perfection of religious life, so 
bright a pattern of all virtues did she exhibit to her sisters in 
religion. There shone forth in her a wonderful humility, an 
extraordinary readiness in obeying, and patience in enduring 
troubles of every kind ; a most exact observance of even the 
least Rules, a constant severity in afflicting her body, and un 
interrupted prayer, to which she devoted herself day and 
night. Rapt in frequent ecstasy, the gifts of divine grace were 
most plenteously showered upon her. In meditating on the 
sufferings of Christ our Lord, she was penetrated with senti 
ments of such deep compassion, and inflamed with so ardent a 
love, that she commonly appeared to be almost in a swoon. 

In course of time, when, by her distinguished virtue, she had 
gained the admiration of all her sisters, she was placed over 
the young persons who were engaged in their novitiate, that 
she might train and form them to the religious life: and for 
this office no one could be found more suited than the Vener 
able Margaret Mary, since by her own example she animated 
and encouraged the young maidens intrusted to her care and 
guidance to enter upon and run on in the way of perfection. 

It was now, as she was praying with fervor before the august 
Sacrament ot the Eucharist, that Christ our Lord intimated to 



Notes and Documents. 399 

her that it would be most pleasing to Him if the worship of 
His most Sacred Heart, burning with love for mankind, were 
established, and He wished the charge of this to be consigned 
to her. The humility of the venerable servant of God was 
greatly alarmed, as she deemed herself unworthy of such an 
office; nevertheless, that she might comply with the will of 
Heaven, and satisfy her desire to enkindle divine love in the 
hearts of men, she earnestly exerted herself, both amongst the 
religious of her own convent and also, as far as she could, 
amongst all in general, to induce them to show every mark of 
honor, worship, and reverence toward the most Sacred Heart, 
the seat of divine charity. 

Many and severe were the troubles that the venerable servant 
of God had, on this account, to endure, and very many difficul 
ties to surmount. But she never lost courage; and, relying on 
the hope of the assistance of Heaven, she applied with such 
labor and perseverance to promote this devotion that, by the 
favor of divine grace, it has increased and spread far and wide 
throughout the Church, with great fruit to souls. 

At last, desiring to be dissolved, that she might take flight to 
the nuptials of the Lamb, for which she so earnestly sighed, 
and wasted, not so much by disease as by the fire of charity, 
she departed this life on the 1 7th of October, in the year 1690. 

The opinion that had prevailed of the Venerable Margaret s 
Mary s sanctity became more general after her death, espe 
cially when confirmed by repeated miracles which were said to 
have been wrought through the intercession of the venerable 
servant of God. In consequence, in the year 1715, the bishop 
of Autun lost no time in procuring documents relating to her 
life and virtues, to be drawn up in the usual form. But the 
serious political disturbances which shook nearly the whole of 
Europe in the eighteenth century prevented the cause from 
being carried before the Holy See. As soon, however, as the 
furious civil tempest was calmed, petition was made for the 
decision of the Apostolic See, and an inquiry into the virtues 
by which the Venerable Margaret Mary had been distinguished, 
in the assembly of the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, 
presiding over the Congregation of Rites. After all the circum 
stances had been long and carefully weighed, we at last de 
clared, by a decree published on the 23d of August in the year 
1866, that they had reached a heroic degree. 



400 Notes and Documents. 

Afterward, in the assembly of Cardinals, was proposed a dis 
cussion concerning the miracles by which the sanctity of the 
Venerable Margaret was said to have been confirmed by 
Heaven ; and when, after a rigorous examination, they had been 
approved both by the Cdnsultors and the Cardinals, we, hav 
ing first implored the aid of divine light, pronounced an affir 
mative sentence regarding the truth of the same miracles, on 
the 24th day of April of the present year, 1864. 

It only remained that the same Cardinals should be asked 
whether it were safe to proceed to the solemn Beatification of 
the Venerable Margaret ; and, being assembled in our presence 
on the I4th of June of the present year, they answered with 
one voice that it was safe to proceed. 

We, accordingly, having implored the divine assistance, as 
was fitting in a matter of such importance, decreed, on the 24th 
of June in the same year, that, since it seemed good to us, the 
honors of the Blessed, with all the usual privileges, might 
safely be paid the Venerable Servant of God, until such time as 
her Canonization should be solemnized. 

We, therefore, moved by the prayers of nearly all the bishops 
of France, as also by those of the religious of the Order of the 
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the counsel and 
assent of our venerable brethren the Cardinals of the Holy 
Roman Church, presiding over the Congregation of Rites, 
grant permission by our apostolic authority that the same 
Venerable Servant of God, Margaret Mary Alacoque, be 
styled in future by the name of Blessed, and that her body and 
relics be presented to the veneration of the faithful, so that 
they be not carried in solemn processions ; moreover, by the 
same our authority, we grant that the Office and Mass of the 
Common of Virgins, with proper prayers approved by us, 
according to the rubrics of the Roman missal and breviary, be 
said in her honor. But we allow the celebration of Mass and 
recitation of Office on the i;th of October only m the diocese of 
Autun, and in all the churches throughout the world belonging 
to those houses in which the religious Order of Nuns of the 
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is found instituted. The 
aforesaid permission extends to all the faithful, secular and 
regular, who are bound to the, recitation of the Canonical 
Hours, and, as regards Masses, to all priests that resort to 
churches in which the feast is celebrated. In fine, we grant 



Notes and Documents. 401 

that, within the first year after the date of these present letters, 
the solemnity of the Beatification of the Venerable Servant of 
God, Margaret Mary Alacoque, be celebrated in the dioceses 
and churches above mentioned with Office and Masses with the 
rank of a Double Major ; and \ve order this celebration to take 
place on a day to be appointed by the Ordinaries, after the 
same solemnity has been celebrated in the Vatican Basilica. 
Any apostolical constitutions and ordinations whatsoever, and 
any other documents to the contrary, notwithstanding. 

We will, moreover, that the same regard be paid to the 
printed copies also of these Letters, provided they be signed 
by the hand of the Secretary of the aforesaid Congregation of 
Sacred Rites, and confirmed by the seal of the Prefect, as 
would be paid to the manifestation of our will expressed by 
these present Letters. 

Given at Castel Gandolpho, under the Seal of the Fisherman, 
on the 2Qth day of the month of August, in the year 1864, the 
nineteenth year of our Pontificate. 

N. CARD. PARACCIANI CLARELLI. 



PRINTED BY BENZIGER BROTHERS, NEW YORK. 



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